Slaughterhouse 5 reminded me of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller to which it's been compared many times. When I read Catch-22 last year, I thought it could have been shorter. Vonnegut got the length right, I think. Anyway, the main similarity is of course the topic of the absurdity of war - the story is about Billy, who (yes) is present at the bombing of Dresden, but who also time-travels, gets kidnapped by aliens and displayed in a zoo and is an optometrist by trade. The whole thing is absurd, but with very engaging language making it exceptionally witty.
There are a few things in particular that stayed with me. This passage:
She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embarassed and ungrateful and weak because she had gone to so much trouble to give him life, and to keep that life going, and Billy didn't really like life at all.Also, I enjoyed the way that the aliens that kidnapped Billy looked at life and death. Basically, when you died it was only in that moment and since time was not consecutive but happened all at the same time, there were still millions of moments in which you were alive. I liked all the talk of a fourth dimension too - that's where the vampires live, for example. :-)
And - a saying that went around by email thousand of times that I really like seems to have originated in this book. Although it could be taken from somewhere too, I guess:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.
This is very pertinent to my current life situation so really struck a chord.
Definitely a book that deserves to be read. I wonder what else of Vonnegut's is interesting!
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