Book: Slaughterhouse Five

S5So it goes. – Billy Pilgrim

Another one of those books that everyone seems to have read (and a blessedly short book at that), I knew very little about this book going into it.  I believed it to be an intellectual book, and that it was connected with the firebombing of Dresden in 1945.  But other than that, I knew nothing.

The story of Billy Pilgrim took a few chapters to get into, and I actually thought the first chapter was an introduction written by Vonnegut.  It turns out it is the narrator, who may or may not be a personification of Vonnegut, describing why he wrote the book.  Billy Pilgrim isn’t even mentioned until the second chapter.

Beyond that, the story is non-linear, following what one online reviewer referred to as ‘psychological time.‘  Billy’s story is primarily following his wartime experience, from being captured in the Battle of the Bulge to the bombing, but is punctuated by jumping to other periods of his life.  The events are referenced early, then visited and expanded upon, culminating at the end as a fully understood story.  You know the sequence of events, without having read them in chronological order.

I mentioned above that I had it in my head this book was considered and intellectual book.  What I meant by that is this: in several movies, TV shows and books, this book was used as an example of a book read mostly by smart people.  Having read it, I would not say that this book requires a significant stretch of intelligence to be able to read, but I can see where some people unused to science fiction or non-conventional structure might give up on the book early on.  That being said, I’ll probably read through this again.  It might be fun to try and write a story along similar narrative style.

A good read, over all.  But I think I should find a happier book for August.  The ones so far haven’t been the most cheerful of novels.

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