Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Book Report: "Slaughterhouse-Five"

Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A rueful meditation on the trials and trauma of war, as well as an inventive rumination on the prospect of time travel, the difficulties of mental illness and the exploitation of the poor, "Slaughterhouse-Five" is a difficult but often rewarding read.

His descriptions of haunting memories, nagging lamentations and biting anhedonia that come along with age are devastating and sweetly amusing.

Kurt Vonnegut alternates between beautiful, elegant meditations and hackneyed crutches and cliches, some of his own creation. The most obnoxious of these, by far, is his tendency to end a sad statement with "so it goes." It got to the point where I winced each time Vonnegut trotted out another "so it goes," and even when he avoided the phrase, I would cringe in anticipation of him using it again. That's abusive writing, and is not OK.

His penchant for lending wacky names to characters is overly cute in the way Quentin Tarantino Diablo Cody would one day emulate. The twee effect is nowhere near as acutely annoying as "so it goes" because Vonnegut mercifully refrains from overusing them.

In the Audible edition, James Franco adds wistful, laconic depth to Vonnegut's prose. Taking on the tone of an exhausted, story-spinning drifter over drinks at a dive bar, Franco's adoration and understanding of the material shines through.

A worthy but problematic read, Vonnegut's work manages to overcome its problematic points to thrive, living in your subconscious in between reading sessions, as well as after you finish it. So it goes.

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