Saturday, April 24, 2010

(Book #15) Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse-Five

I finished Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five late Tuesday night, so I am a little late getting to the write-up. Finding time to write these has been much more difficult than finding time to do the actual reading. Better get down to business…

Overall it was a quick but engaging read revolving around a perspective of a gruesome, but lesser known event in history, the firebombing of Dresden in Germany towards the end of World War 2. The first chapter in the book, which was more of an introduction, presented the reader with the premise. It was told through the eyes of Vonnegut himself as he grappled with the subject and the people involved and the act of writing about it. I was surprised to find that Chapter Two introduced us to a completely new character that we followed for the rest of the book. Clearly he was an amalgam of Vonnegut's personal experiences churned by a plot device, time travel, which leads the reader on a dance before, after and around the crux of the story. Through time travel, we see these poignant and vivid moments of the character's life tied together and juxtaposed throughout the narrative. The reader sees the moments as the character does, not as they occurred but through flash-backs and flash-forwards. The character has preexisting impressions on what is going to happen because he has already lived or seen it, whereas the reader has different but similar impressions, based on what we have gleaned from Vonnegut's first chapter and what we have already read. The true climax of the book comes in the form of a memory, and in fact is the only memory described in the book. Whereas all the life's experiences are offered by means of the time travel, we only receive one truly human moment, the remembering of the massacre at Dresden. It is the knowledge that these events actually occurred in our own history which leaves the reader with a chilling impression which remains even after the book ends. So it goes.

No comments:

Post a Comment