Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Norm's review of Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I gave a school presentation a week ago to a eight high school writers group, and afterward the English teacher told me how much she'd enjoyed reading my book THE ADVENTURES OF GUY. She said my humor reminded her a lot of Kurt Vonnegut.

I didn't know how to respond ... mostly because I'd never successfully read through a Vonnegut book. At the time I thought I'd only started one of his books, some book about modern day piracy, and it was okay, but I didn't see it as being all that comedic.

When I told her this, she said, "wait, you have to read one of his books." She rushed back to her room and came back with a paperback copy of Slaughterhouse Five. "I have a few of these, take it," she assured me, pushing it into my hand.

So I started reading, and after the first chapter I was shaking my head.  It read a lot like a diary, and one that was barely interesting at all.   I re-read the cover, and everyone enthusing what a great dark humorist Vonnegut.Not to my eyes, I thought, but I soldiered on, because, after all, a teacher had assigned this to me.  But I couldn't help thinking that like most books assigned to me to read, it wouldn't get published in today's world.

But starting with the second chapter, he kicked it into another gear, and now I could see how he pricked the social conscious with a comedic sword.  The dialogue was almost an afterthought, used when necessary, but didn't diminish the overall effect of the story.  And when he wrote himself into the book as a very, very minor character, I thought, "genius."  And, about three quarters though, I realized I'd read the book before.  Weird.

The  end itself, was just a bit anticlimactic - almost abrupt - but still successful in bringing the book to a satisfactory enough conclusion.

The bottom line? I enjoyed the book, saw where she could see similarities to my own work, but I'm not sure how a book like this would play out if it were written in today's highly competitive publishing world. To many agents, this might not have made it out of their slush pile. 

Yeah, I know, who am I, a far less known writer, to dare say this about the mighty Vonnegut? They made a movie about this, for crying out loud. He was a god, me, not so much.  Feel free to read my books and judge my writing   -  because as a reader I feel I can judge this.



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