Slaughterhouse-Five Review : Psychedelic And Gut Wrenching

I read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

The book Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death was recommended to me by a dear friend of mine who had also recommended Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. After concluding Catch-22 which laughed at me in its entire reading for letting it rest in my bookshelf in one corner for three seasons of a year, I was overwhelmed enough to shoot a thank you message to my dear friend Vijay, in the reply of which came the recommendation of Slaughterhouse-Five.

Also check out another war satire that kicks ass blue, green and red. Slaughterhouse – Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

In the heart of Slaughterhouse-Five lies Billy Pilgrim, a World War 2 veteran who has a disconnected life as an optometrist. So one fine night of his daughter’s wedding, he gets abducted by a race of aliens from the planet Trafmadore, who teach him how to get “unstuck in time”, which means, he can travel from one point of his life to another point in almost no time and anytime. Another interesting part about Billy is that he was present as an American prisoner in Dresden when it was bombed, and apparently, the only one to survive it. When Dresden was being bombed, absurdly, the prisoners had to hide in a slaughterhouse number five, from which the title of the book is derived.

Ah, as one may imagine, bullets are flying everywhere in a World War book, but its is not like that. Most of the time, Billy is tripping through the events of his life. Every now and then he goes back to the moment when he was thrown into a pool by his father to learn how to swim, the time when he peeked down the grand canyon on a family trip and realised how fearful it was, the night when he was abducted by the aliens who could see through the timeline of life as if they as seeing a valley standing on top of a high hill, and numerous other incidents.

It is hard to get a sense of the present time in this book, as the events switch quickly and fluidly between the sequence of time. And, all of this is weaved interestingly through the thread of Vonnegut’s humour, which I encountered for the first time in his book Cat’s Cradle. It is about the day the first atom bomb was dropped which killed so may people; but not as many as in the bombing of Dresden.

The book reveals many new outcomes on the concept of time as being subjective to our understanding. For writers, it shows an entirely new form of writing which perhaps has never been read, new, surprising, belief-shattering, and satire in the storyline which Kurt Vonnegut so masterly manages to show.

At many points, it is sad, happy at several, and full of surprising elements which sometimes seems to paint it through the colours of science fiction. The book begins like an epilogue which moves to the form of a narrative. It delivers punch lines which make you smile and thinking.

Slaughterhouse-Five leaves little behind to complain and much to cherish and remember. Indeed, the 60s was the of Yellow Submarine and this similarly psychedelic work by Kurt Vonnegut.


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