Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So it goes.

So goes one of the most horrifying novels I have read in my life. I have just reread "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, which I first read about 40 years ago, in translation.

Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time and relives various fragments of his life, in the US, in Europe during World War II (when he meets Kurt Vonnegut, the author), in particular during the destruction of Dresden, and as a zoo exhibit on planet Tralfamadore.

It took me over a week to read this short book; I just could not stomach the truth about the wretched human species. I am embarrassed by being a member of a species that burns their members in ovens (bad guys, the Germans, did that by millions in concentration camps) or boils schoolgirls alive (good guys, the Americans, did that by thousands in Dresden). I am embarrassed by how wars are in the very human nature, how mass murders cannot be avoided. How the wars are fought by children, when most adult soldiers are dead. How absurdly random human lives are.

I do not like the Tralfamadoria bit and do not much care for the Kilgore Trout story, yet
this is a great book, a must read, a masterpiece. The blurbs on the cover scream "Poignant and hilarious". Yes, absolutely. Hilarious and very, very, very sad. "Nobody held it against him that he dropped jellied gasoline on people. But they found his halitosis unforgivable. But then he cleared that up, and he was welcome to the human race." And poor Edgar Derby, who has survived the unimaginable horrors of war, is executed for stealing a teacup. I really think that whoever is proud to be a human might be an idiot. Birds are smarter; they can say "Poo-tee-weet".

Five stars.

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