So It Goes: A Slaughterhouse-Five Book Review

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Courtesy of Google Images

Sam Abate, Entertainment Editor

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Slaughterhouse-Five, written by renowned author Kurt Vonnegut, is an anti-war novel that revolves around the Dresden bombing of World War II.  Protagonist Billy Pilgrim experiences this bombing first-hand after he is captured as a prisoner of war at the Battle of the Bulge. Following this, he gets abducted by aliens (known as the Tralfamadorians) that put him on display in their zoo on planet Tralfamadore.  From this moment on, he becomes “unstuck in time,” essentially meaning that he is free to travel throughout time without any control of whether he will stay or leave the time period he is in.  The book follows a similar fashion.

The novel is not like a typical story where events happen in chronological order.  The events are scattered throughout the novel, and the story can only be comprehended once the reader finishes the work.  There is no clear exposition, climax, and resolution.  The disarray of the novel mirrors the feeling of being unstuck in time.

Slaughterhouse-Five can be considered a roman à clef or a semi-autobiography because Kurt Vonnegut was present during the Dresden bombing and the story emulates his life in some aspects.  The work can also be classified as a science fiction, satire, or war story, making it a novel that can appeal to many audiences.

This is one of my favorite novels because it introduces anti-war sentiments with a story that captivates readers in a format that is unique and intriguing.  The story of Billy Pilgrim and his journey throughout time convinces the reader that war will be the downfall of the human race.  Additionally, he proves that life is just as much of a journey as traveling through time.  Pilgrim constantly reminds the reader that despite someone’s death, their influence will impact the world forever.  All points in time exist simultaneously, existing as long as humanly possible. He expresses this by repeating the phrase “so it goes” immediately after the death of someone in the novel.

As noted by Amazon.com, Slaughterhouse-Five is one of the top 100 books that you need to read before you die.  Similarly, in 1998, The New York Times named the novel one of the of the best English works.  I too believe that this is one of the best works that I have ever read and I strongly recommend it to anybody and everybody.

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