This was one of those books I pretended I’d read in college. Friends and professors mentioned it in discussions, my roommate often quoted it. In short, I assumed that it was a ground shaking piece of literature because the people to whom I look up seemed so entranced with it.
A few weeks ago, I was at the library without my trusty list of books I want to read. I both love and hate walking into a book shop or library without my list because I tend to go rogue, selecting books that I normally would never find, thus lengthening my to-read list. I picked up the only copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s book, figuring I could get through it that weekend. The short blurb intrigued me, since the book was set during WWII.
Overall, it wasn’t bad. The writing style is very simple and the book isn’t terribly long. The part that absolutely drove me mad was the narrator, which I found to be unreliable. (I know some people who love unreliable narrators, but I personally do not. I like to trust the narrator in order to feel more invested in the story.) There were constant time jumps, which I normally like, but these didn’t seem to add much new insight. The ultimate takeaway I got from the book was that war is bad, yet it is, in some ways, ordinary and mundane. And often the people who return from war come back fractured or broken in ways other than physical.
So am I glad I read it? Sure. It was quick, the style was simple, and I can now say I’ve read it. Would I read it again? Probably not, but I might try another of Vonnegut’s work. Will it go on my favorite books of all time? Nope.
Slaughterhouse Five, or the Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Delacourt Press, 1994 (first published in 1969).