Book 18: Slaughterhouse – Five


So I made good use of the long weekend.  Well, to my eyes I made use of it.  The dishes in the sink, the dirt on the floor all make a very strong argument from the so called “responsible” people that I accomplished nothing that anybody can see, and for that I say here is the internet.  You know the truth.  

Slaughterhouse is, so far, the only Vonnegut book I’ve read.  This is the second time I’ve read it though.   That first chapter stands with Lolita as one of my favorite introductions to a book.  Sometimes I wonder how personal feeling about an author informs how we take their work, that’s why I now try to find out about authors after I’ve read one of their books.  

I haven’t read Hemingway because I don’t like Hemingway.  He was an ass, he was an ass to other writers, notably Fitzgerald.  I do like Fitzgerald, a stupid man who got himself into a destructive relationship: he became a writer to make enough money that he could marry the woman who had spurned him for being poor.  He was so flawed and talented he captured in my high school mind the Romantic writer and that affection lingers.  

The first chapter of Slaughterhouse offers an introduction to the author; at least how the author is presenting himself, which is an important distinction to make.  He seems to be genuinely likable, at least to a fairly liberal person like myself.  When other people read “He was a gun nut, too.  He left me his guns.  They rust.” (admittedly, from the last chapter) maybe they aren’t fans of the person who would do that, I understand their feelings, I don’t agree with them, but I understand.

This was his book, the one he was carrying around since he was young, his Dresden story.  Of course, it isn’t a story about Dresden, if it had been then it wouldn’t stick around our collective conscious so much.  It’s a strange book about how we perceive time, a self aware book about how humans interact with each other.  It is charming in its strangeness, with alien abduction and zoological displays, but maybe that is just because I think I like Vonnegut.  Perhaps, someone who reads the first chapter when they talk about children being the ones who fight wars, they disagree with it, perhaps it isn’t as easy to come to grips with the idea of immortality through memory, what has happened will always happen and you will always live there.

Gatsby’s story is a soap opera and that is easy to understand.  Billy Pilgrim’s story is a clusterfuck and that is more true to life, even with the time jumping.

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