Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five is the first book I’ve read by Kurt Vonnegut, and definitely not the last. It’s the story of Billy Pilgrim. My initial thoughts about this name—BILLY is the name of someone fun and approachable. I never met a Billy who was a jerk. PILGRIM is a someone on a religious journey or an a quest to find something new or sacred, like the pilgrims on the Mayflower. Well, this Billy Pilgrim is an eye dentist who is sent to fight in World War II. He becomes unstuck in time and travels to and from different stages of his life and the far far off planet of Tralfamadore, where he is caged with a Hollywood pornstar for observation and on display in a Tralfamadorian zoo.
So it goes.
While reading this book, I felt as if I was quickly riding through Billy Pilgrim’s dreamy stream of consciousness. I can’t picture his face, but I can vividly picture him in a cold gray war living in an old slaughterhouse in Dresden with other American prisoners of war, spooning honey into everyone’s mouths. Cut to Billy stumbling across Russian or German soldiers while wearing long silver boots and a long fur military coat that’s six sizes too small for him. Cut next to beefy soldiers all dolled up as Cinderella and her step-sisters waiting for their cues backstage—it’s frightening, but in a good way. Now cut to Billy late for his own daughter’s wedding because he’s stuck in inter-galactic traffic on the way back to Earth from Tralfamadore.
The time travel aspect of this story is what kept me engaged, and Vonnegut’s storytelling style is brilliant. He’s got a unique way of skillfully blending political satire with the twisted personal reality of Billy Pilgrim. I didn’t know that they’ve already turned this book into a movie. Doing my IMdb research, turns out George Roy Hill directed Slaughterhouse Five, as well as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Slapshot and The World According to Garp. I’ve already gone online and ordered the DVD, so stay tuned for notes on the 1972 movie.
Jon Stewart interviews Kurt Vonnegut
This interview is AWESOME.