Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

I put this book on my Classics list because I've never read anything written by Vonnegut. How do I begin to describe this book? It's about war. It's about mental illness. Its about death. It's about aliens.


This story toggles back and forth between the character Billy Pilgrim's experience of World War II as a prisoner of war and forward to 1960 as his life as a family man and optometrist. As one of the few survivors of the Dresden fire Billy wants to write a book about the war but struggles how best to put the events on paper. He visits his war buddy to help him and his wife, rather appalled at the idea, tells him not to glorify the war. Billy promises not to and in doing so dedicates the book in her name.


While Billy lives his life in what seems like an average and normal way he then reveals he's been abducted by aliens which resemble upside down toilet plungers. When this happens he is able to see into the future and knows how and when he'll die. The aliens don't dwell on death as humans do because they are able to time travel within their life thus view death as rather mundane.  Throughout the book the phrase "and so it goes" is repeated after every mention of death to emphasize this point. Once his concept of time changes and is no longer linear one might think this is his battle with post traumatic stress disorder.


This was a very bizarre and disjointed read as well as one outside my normal realm and liking, however, there is a reason why we read the Classics. There are important messages and themes to ponder, reflect upon and thus learn. I would recommend this book to someone looking for an interesting and thought-provoking read or to anyone studying the after effects of war.


This is book #4 read in my Classics Club Book Challenge Classics Club Page


How I acquired this book: Husband bought this book for me on Mother's Day on our visit to Moe's Books in Berkeley, California.

Shelf life:  3 months