It’s Monday, and I’m reading Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse-Five. Wow. I know that wasn’t a complete sentence, but I feel the word “wow” describes my experience with the book perfectly. I haven’t been this enthralled in a novel in a long time. I’m 240 pages in, and I only started last night. I expect to finish in a couple hours, which should give an indication of how good it is. Check out this video by CrashCourse on the book.
World War II is a fascinating subject for me, and my favorite way to learn about it is through fiction. In fact, my opinion is that fiction is the best tool in learning about war. While facts are useful, a well-written story can portray certain aspects of war in ways no clinical description could. This is why I am loving Slaughterhouse-Five so greatly. It is easily the best depiction of WWII I have encountered yet.
“Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer. So it goes.” (Vonnegut 213)
Slaughterhouse-Five is ultimately a criticism of many different things. It’s a criticism of war, government, ethics, religion, and most specifically the bombing of Dresden. This book is intensely effective because Vonnegut is writing a non-fiction event that he witnessed. He was a prisoner of war of the Germans, and he did hide in a meat locker during the bombing of Dresden. Knowing that “all this happened, more or less,” as Vonnegut puts it in the first sentence, adds an eerie amount of weight to the novel. Having Vonnegut writing in the first person from his point-of-view was bold, and it worked. I am looking forward to finishing the novel, but more importantly, I’m looking forward to learn about the events surrounding it to better my understanding of World War II.
Word Count: 331