Wednesday, February 25, 2015

So It Goes: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

So it goes.

Those three words mean everything and nothing at the same time. Those three words remind us that the world goes on with or without us, or that there is a specific time, place, date, whatever when something does happen.

Or, I could just be talking about absolutely nothing.

After many years of procrastination, I finally broke down and read my first Kurt Vonnegut, of which just happened to be one of his most famous books: Slaughterhouse-Five. I sat down to read it and two hours later, finished it angrily because I had read it just that quickly. Yet, this book stayed in my mind for quite some time because the book was JUST that wicked awesome.

The story is thus: Billy Pilgrim, soldier during World War II, can travel back and forth through time and even other planes of existence. At one point, he is before, after and in the middle of the bombing of the town of Dresden, only to shift to being a father and husband after the war to later lose his wife in a most unfortunate accident. He then becomes the "victim" of an alien abduction and travels to the aliens' home planet to be part of a living experiment, only to return to Dresden as an inhabitant of Slaughterhouse-Five and then move to meeting with his friend, the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (LOVE that name!) and then later seeing his friends' books in a display window of an "adult" store. His body and mind are never in the same place for too long, for his life is a series of pictures that move on their own. Far removed from the rest of the world while still being a part of it, Billy never questions, never wonders just why and how he does what he does, or even if it is truly happening.

Of course, this is all the clever invention of an unnamed author who wishes to write a story that begins with, "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time", and ends with Poo-tee-weet? 

So it goes.

Since this was my initiation into the world of Vonnegut, I knew it was either sink or swim. However, Vonnegut welcomed me with existential dusted arms and told me to take it all in stride and then remember it all, for it would make sense in the bleakest of days. And it did. Being a fan of the black comedy in all forms, I found myself grinning in spite of myself while reading Slaughterhouse-Five.

Oh yes, Mr. Pilgrim. It does go.


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