Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review of the Day: Slaughterhouse-Five



Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five is an incredible novel, but it is not a book for me. 

I had avoided reading this famous book because I thought it would be unbearably dreary. How could a book about the firebombing of Dresden during WWII not be dreary? But it is on the Modern Library's Top 100 list, so I finally read it.  Now I know the answer: If you write a book about the firebombing of Dresden and fill it with time travel, space ships, and extraterrestrials, it's not dreary, it's goofy.

But I don't like goofy books about extraterrestrials, especially when they are really serious books about the morality of firebombing your enemy during war. I realized that I would rather have a dreary, realistic book than a goofy book.


NOTES

I read Slaughterhouse-Five a couple of years ago. I am only posting my review now because I am updating my Modern Library Top 100 post to include my comments about the books I read.

There are people who feel very strongly that this is the greatest book ever written. I know this because when I first posted my review on LibraryThing, several of them sent me comments expressing their disappointment that we didn't see eye to eye. (That is a watered-down description -- what I actually got were Unibomber-style manifestos on Vonnegut's genius.) 

OTHER REVIEWS
(If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it -- unless your review is a Unibomber-style manifesto.)


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13 comments:

Baley Petersen said...

The only Vonnegut I have read is Cat's Cradle, and I really enjoyed it. To me, it's a mix of Alduous Huxley and Douglas Adams. Slaughterhouse-Five is on my TBR Long List.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read this, but from your description, I don't think it's for me either.

Carin said...

I have also always postponed reading this book. Despite many raves, I'm pretty sure I won't like it. Now I've occasionally been proven wrong when I make that announcement, but unless my book club picks it I'm unlikely to read it on my on! Too many good books in the world.

Autodidact101 said...

It's about insanity, which I don't find goofy. I think it more like The World According to Garp, if you don't laugh you cry.

Rose City Reader said...

Baley -- I read Cat's Cradle too. I appreciate Vonnegut's talent, but don't enjoy his books. That's just my personal taste.

Bermuda -- Maybe not. If you prefer realism, it wouldn't be for you. I'm like that.

Carin -- I agree! I am so compulsive about my lists that I end up reading books I don't personally care for. But at least it cuts down on people saying to me, "How do you know? You haven't even tried it."

Auto -- Good point! It is about insanity. Insanity manifested in goofy ways, but still sad. Now, Garp, on the other hand, is a book I wholeheartedly enjoyed.

Bob said...

Way back in the depths of another century, when I was in college, I went to a party where Vonnegut showed up. He had to: He'd been paid to give a talk at the school, and the party was in his honor. But he clearly didn't want to be there. And after some overzealous fanboy (not me) spilled a drink on him, he just up and walked out. Didn't blame him.

I like the book when I read it way back when. Haven't read it since. Wonder what I'd think now.

Rose City Reader said...

Bob -- That's a funny story. I think I am glad that I haven't had many celebrity run-ins because I would be the dork who spilled the drink.

Love the new look, by the way. I've been meaning to tell you.

Autodidact101 said...

Bob: I do kind of blame him. But I still love his books even if he wasn't the model of graciousness.

I worked in a restaurant where another server spilled red wine down a woman's white silk blouse. She was very gracious about it though. Oh and it was Meryl Streep.

J.T. Oldfield said...

Too bad you didn't like it. I love this one. So it goes...

Rose City Reader said...

Auto -- I love the Meryl Streep story! I have MS story of my own, that has nothing to do with MS and all to do with a drunken oaf, but it is much too shaggy to go into.

JT -- So it goes, indeed!

Autodidact101 said...

Yes, I wasn't there. It happened right before I started working there and my first week i spilled a glass of ice tea on a table and one of the other servers told me this to make me feel better, which it certainly did. I waited on Liam Neeson.

Michael5000 said...

I read Slaughterhouse-Five about, er, 25 years ago, so I don't have a clue of whether I like it or not. But if I remember rightly, Vonnegut was actually in Dresden during the bombing, so the book might have some added interest as an attempt by a witness to a cataclysmic event to process it in a meaningful way.

Hmph. Now I'm curious to read it again....

Rose City Reader said...

Michael -- I think KV did wrestle with the horror he witnessed and how to write about it. You are absolutely right. I still didn't care for the book, but that's just me.

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