Saturday, January 05, 2008

Slaughterhouse Five

by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five is the tale of Billy Pilgrim, a man with three claims to fame. The first is that as a prisoner of war in World War II he was present for and a survivor of the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, an event (battle?) that claimed 25,000-35,000* lives. The second is that, for a time, he was taken to Tralfamadore, a distant planet, and lived in a zoo for the delight and edification of the Tralfamadorians. The third claim to fame is that Billy gets unstuck in time. His consciousness travels about from one point in his life to another, allowing him a unique perspective on life. Of course, Billy is just the vehicle through which Mr. Vonnegut examines the Dresden firebombing and suburban life in 1960s America. It's a bit of a bizarre world, peopled by pathetic nebbishes or self-deluded blowhards. When I first read the book, in my youth, I recall being taken with the character of Billy Pilgrim. I felt a kinship with him, a man floating helplessly along with the events of his life and the world around him. He seemed to accept his fate with a quiet wisdom. Reading it as a middle aged geezer--a man still caught in the currents of history, but aware that I have some ability (and responsibility) to direct my life--I realize that Billy is hardly a well rounded individual, but still a welcome protagonist in a quirky and interesting tale. Check it out.

LibraryThing link
*figures from Wikipedia article. Slaughterhouse Five lists a figure of 135,000 killed.


Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]