Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Narrator: Ethan Hawke
Published: March 31, 1969
Audiobook: 6 hours 2 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: August 3-7, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”
“And so it is”… Slaughterhouse Five was not for me. For me it seems that Vonnegut is an acquired taste. Slaughterhouse is a short book but also a very hard read. I only finished it because it is a book club read, I most likely would have never picked it up otherwise. Maybe my opinion of it will change after we have our meeting on this one and I hear what the other ladies have to say.
Maybe it was that I did not know the history of Dresden or I am not a fan of symbolism, but it just did not work for me. The novel was also non-linear which can make it harder to read if you are not enjoying it. And then there are aliens and time travel…. Slaughterhouse is a classic that most people seem to enjoy but I just really struggled. It is semi- auto biographical for Vonnegut as he served during WWII.
I listened to an older audiobook version which was narrated by Ethan Hawke. His narration was fine, and it actually helped me get through listening. There was also an interview with Vonnegut. The main thing I got from that interview is that Vonnegut is NOT Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim was based off of a real person: Edward R Crone Jr, who actually died at Dresden. That was interesting to find out.
Though not for me, maybe this classic will be for you. “And so it is”…