Slaughterhouse Five and Its Moments, Which, in My Opinion, are Few

Well aware of how limited my reading freedom is about to be due to class beginning, I’ve been on a book frenzy.  I’ve put away Swami Rama’s Meditation and Its Practice in anticipation of needing to calm down over the semester, April Winchell’s Regretsy, a hilariously irreverent exploration of crafts gone wrong, Slaughterhouse Five, and, sadly, only the beginnings of Sister Carrie.  I say sadly because I’m instantly loving it (not a surprise, I’m turning out to be a huge Dreiser fan) and I’m pretty sure that it’s going to collect dust until December.  Oh, school.  For a literature lover, it can be the ultimate frenemy.

Since Slaughterhouse Five is the only book I’ve read in the last week that can be agreed upon as literature (though the other two are awesome), that’s what I’ll talk about.  When I finished it, I closed the book with a resounding “meh.” I’ve never really been a fan of the minimalist, Hemmingway-esque writing style, though I understand the unique impact such simplicity can have.  I found the book not at all as powerful as it was built up to be, though there was a part about cut-up springs fed to a dog that almost made me cry-puke.  (If you don’t know what cry-puking is, a million wishes that you may continue to live life in that blissful ignorance.)  But it also almost made me stop reading the book, never to pick it up again, and I’m not sure that’s the kind of impact it was supposed to have.  All the time travel stuff was weird and unresolved, although I imagine fans think that’s the beauty of it all–the story, like life, is never-ending.  But, as pithy, snappy, and sound-bite-y as that sounds, I want to know how he got off the alien planet! I feel cheated!

That said, I really liked the part about Billy watching the war movie backwards. He sees it as if the planes were healing the cities and people were disassembling the bombs and putting the parts back into the earth.  That was beautifully written, and the idea was brilliant.  And, though I thought the “so it goes” repeated over and over during the book was overdone, I see what Vonnegut is doing.  It’s a sneaky way to convey the kind of emotional death that becomes the coping mechanism in the wake of so much tragedy.  Every time someone dies horribly or is the victim of some horrendous wrong, the uttered phrase “so it goes” implies that life is, in essence, an endless encounter of such stories for Billy.

But, ug, the choppy sentences and bare-bones language.  AND THE POOR DOG. I was so happy to move on to Sister Carrie.  Oh, it’s beautiful, folks.  And now I must get ready for class, and I see the shiny Kindle with my precious, newly-encountered Dreiser masterwork and, in my mind, it’s drifting further and futher away and I’m reaching out in slow motion and saying “nooooooooooo….”

Oh well.  One more year of reading nothing but what other people tell me to in my spare time.  Then, a lifetime of freedom.

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