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Stories

Finished Reading Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut, so it goes.

by Bia Ahmed,

“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

Book Summary:

Slaughterhouse-five or The Children’s Crusade divulges into some of the most tragic events in human history when allied forces bombed the entire city of Dresden, told through the lens of Billy Pilgrim–a soldier who has become ‘unstuck in time’ thanks to being abducted by Tralfamadorians (plunger shaped aliens as described in the book who experience time non-linearly)

This novel follows Billy leaping through different timelines before, during, and after World War II starting as a kid with his parents standing precariously close looking over the edge of Grand Canyon to the time when he was a middle-aged optometrist living with his family and during his time living in Tralfamadore as a specimen in their zoo.

His odyssey through time puts into perspective our lives as we struggle to deal with driving sense out of waging the wars life throws at us and the different ways we find to deal with them.

My Review for Slaughterhouse-Five:

This book is so wonderfully weird, depressing but hopeful at the same time. I’ve attempted to sit down and review this book multiple times only to find myself incapable of doing justice to Kurt Vonnegut’s work because even though this is an antiwar novel–that’s not what drew me into this book and made me dedicate so much of my time obsessing over it.

After giving some thought on why this story affected me as much as it did was apparent, I realized that how much I was able to empathize and relate with the way Billy created a reality of his own as a way to dissociate with the stuff he was dealing with in his life. Perhaps not to such a high magnitude but I did get why he would find comfort living in a separate reality as a safe space to return to when things got too much for him.

The theory that sounded most reasonable to me was that these jumps in timelines and the mention of Tralfamadorians abducting Billy and all the metaphysical elements was conjecture of his PTSD, it was his way of dissociating himself from the horrors of war and it was not just for Billy, Vonnegut’s own experiences and the remorse he showed at the starting of this book, to see his own character spill out through the mind of Billy was a fascinating experience that added so much to the story and I couldn’t help but marvel at how fitting it made the opening line of this book sound.

The prose in this book heavily relied on irreverence to describe the horrors of war and has an air of nonchalance. It was a very effective way to describe the ugliness of war in as a matter-of-factly way and that’s what make this story so unique.

I would recommend everyone to read this book. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into classics or not. This was an über-cool read because–come on! Who would’ve guessed that an anti war novel can include aliens and science fiction elements in it and make it sound such a normal part in the story?! And there’s humor in this book too that doesn’t disrespect or downplay what people faced during that time and I believe that’s rare to pull off so flawlessly. I loved it and was able to personally relate to it and I think anyone who read it is bound to find their own meaning behind the absurdities mentioned in this book.

This was my first Vonnegut read that Reddit suggested over countless time (not counting the short stories) and I’m only looking forward to read all the other books he wrote.

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