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Slaughterhouse Five Cd Unabridged Audio CD – Audiobook, Oct 17 2003
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Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
Don't let the ease of reading fool you--Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..." Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy--and humor. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
"Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time." So begins Vonnegut's absurdist 1969 classic. Hawke rises to the occasion of performing this sliced-and-diced narrative, which is part sci-fi and partially based on Vonnegut's experience as a American prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany during the firebombing of 1945 that killed thousands of civilians. Billy travels in time and space, stopping here and there throughout his life, including his long visit to the planet Tralfamador, where he is mated with a porn star. Hawke adopts a confidential, whisper-like tone for his reading. Listening to him is like listening to someone tell you a story in the back of a busthe perfect pitch for this book. After the novel ends, Vonnegut himself speaks for a short while about his survival of the Dresden firestorm and describes and names the man who inspired this story. Tacked on to the very end of this audio smorgasbord is music, a dance single that uses a vintage recording of Vonnegut reading from the book. Though Hawke's reading is excellent, one cannot help but wish Vonnegut himself had read the entire text.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
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Don't let the fragmented timeline of Billy's tale put anybody off; it's there to juxtapose disconnected events and thereby create illustrations that are creative and funny and satirical and moving. When available fictional devices cannot make his point, Vonngut puts one or another fantastic tale in the pen of alter ego Kilgore Trout, or brings in the Tralfamadorians for a few life lessons.
Vonnegut is an unparalleled storyteller with a style that is at once easy and deep, like a wonderful aunt or uncle with biting humor and years of wisdom quietly regaling late into the evening. The tale he tells in Slaughterhouse-Five is one of the great stories of all time for it's unbelievable creativity and it's quiet, gentle and powerful sense of humanity. A masterpiece.
First published in 1969, Slaughterhouse-Five has an experimental feel to it. Billy's time travel leads to some unconventional juxtaposition of scenes, and Vonnegut makes frequent use of asides to the reader to tell us about himself and why he wrote the book. Tragic events are described in flat, emotionless terms.
Slaughterhouse-Five is a quick and entertaining read, and it educates the reader about the horrors of bombing directed against civilians. Because of the flat tone, though, and because the characters are so unattractive, there doesn't seem to be much of a message here except to say that men are fools.
SH5's Billy Pilgrim is a phenomenal character. He is also a representational Vonnegut character, shaded with a goofy naivete, but also with a contrasting higher-knowledge untranslatable to normal situations. Interlocked within stories of alien abduction and time travel, is the firebombing of Dresden during WWII - something Vonnegut was around to witness. He wanted to tell the story, but it was a devastating event, unprecedented in that new adjectives had to be invented, so he took a roundabout way of doing it; a non-linear way of getting there, so that he ended there, but only kind of. As he tells us via the Tralfamadorians, all moments forever float around, never starting or stopping, so Dresden was firebombed at one time, but wasn't. It sounds confusing, but it's not. He'll explain it to you in the book.
It must have taken great courage for Vonnegut- as talented as he is- to take the Allied bombing of Dresden Germany during WWII and make it the main stage for this theater of the absurd tale, particularly since he witnessed firsthand what happened to Dresden. Fail, and you risk being pummeled by the critics for trivializing a horrific, nearly unimaginable event. (For those who don't know, Dresden wasn't "just" bombed; it was turned into a raging firestorm, with hurricane-force winds dragging thousands of victims into the flames to be cremated, and depleting the oxygen in the underground shelters, leaving thousands more asphyxiated.) But Vonnegut didn't fail; he succeeded brilliantly in conveying the absurdity of war by not embellishing events, the tone of the book remarkably matter-of-fact as his main character- Billy Pilgrim- jumps through time and space, gaining a unique perspective on the follies of mankind.
The name of his main character is especially telling of Vonnegut's intentions. Perhaps the most famous Billy in literature is Melville's Billy Budd, an innocent soul whose fate is an unjust death that suggests life is predetermined. And Pilgrim brings to mind John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, an allegorical tale of the escape from the City of Destruction (Dresden) to the Celestial City of enlightenment (the home world of the superior Tralfamadorians, who explain human existence to Billy.)
Perhaps by writing Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut gained some measure of catharsis, found a way to deal with his memories of Dresden and its aftermath.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The whole book could be summarized in 3 words: So it goes.
And no, I'm not trying to be cute. Read more
Simply my favourite book, I have read id many times in russian translation, but now I enjoy original...Published 10 months ago by Vasily Kandelaki
This is an innovative novel that reads more easily than it ought. At the end though, it is something less than the sum of its cleverness. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Rodge
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