Slaughterhouse-Five is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW who has, in the later stage of his life, become "unstuck in time" and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously.
Traumatized by the bombing of Dresden at the time he had been imprisoned, Pilgrim drifts through all events and history, sometimes deeply implicated, sometimes a witness. He is surrounded by Vonnegut's usual large cast of continuing characters (notably here the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the alien Tralfamadorians, who oversee his life and remind him constantly that there is no causation, no order, no motive to existence). The "unstuck" nature of Pilgrim's experience may constitute an early novelistic use of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder; then again, Pilgrim's aliens may be as "real" as Dresden is real to him.
Struggling to find some purpose, order, or meaning to his existence and humanity's, Pilgrim meets the beauteous and mysterious Montana Wildhack (certainly the author's best character name), has a child with her, and drifts on some supernal plane, finally, in which Kilgore Trout, the Tralfamadorians, Montana Wildhack, and the ruins of Dresden do not merge but rather disperse through all planes of existence.
Slaughterhouse-Five was hugely successful, brought Vonnegut an enormous audience, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a best seller, and remains four decades later as timeless and shattering a war fiction as Catch-22, with which it stands as the two signal novels of their riotous and furious decade.
©1969 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
I've read Slaughterhouse-Five several times and I'm still not sure I know exactly how Vonnegut pulls it off. It is primarily a postmodern, anti-war novel. It is an absurd look at war, memory, time, and humanity, but it is also gentle. Its prose emotionally feels (go ahead, pet the emotion) like the tug of the tides, the heaviness of sleep, the seduction of alcohol, the dizziness of love. His prose is simple, but beautiful.
Obviously, part of the brilliance of this novel is born from the reality that Vonnegut is largely playing the notes of his own song (obviously, obscured by an unreliable narrator, time that is unstuck, and generous kidnapping aliens). It is the song of someone who has seen horrible, horrible things but still wants to dance and smile (so a Totentanz?).
Emperor, your sword won't help you out
Sceptre and crown are worthless here
I've taken you by the hand
For you must come to my dance
I had to work very much and very hard
The sweat was running down my skin
I'd like to escape death nonetheless
But here I won't have any luck
It is essentially art pulled out of the tension between despair and hope, grief and celebration, love and death. It is a classic not because it has a message about war, but because it has a message about life. Vonnegut aimed at war and hit everything.
Vonnegut is one of a kind, and if you like that kind, Slaughterhouse Five is not to be missed. However, the same cannot be said about this audiobook. I usually like James Franco as an actor, but I was greatly disappointed with his narration of this book. There was nothing at all remarkable about his voice. He mumbled some of the time, and he sounded bored and listless all of the time. He seemed to be phoning it in.
just one more book lover
I have read this book three times and listened to Ethan Hawke read on CD twice.
James Franco adds an incredible voice to this classic anti-war novel with its disjointed chronology. He is deadpan and on the mark, giving the satire room to breathe.
As for the novel, I was forced to read it in high school and reluctantly fell in love the shambling WWII vet Billy Pilgrim.
He flops between time periods like an awkward flamingo, makes a living as a bored optometrist, makes love to his giant of a wife and infuriates his daughter with tales of alien abduction. And what middle-ager wouldn't want to be abducted if his co-abductee were a bosomy porn star?
There's also an extraterrestrial zoo.
Vonnegut has written a masterpiece.
I read this book perhaps 30 years ago. I'm delighted to be reintroduced. A great author and great story. Even if depressing.
The dry wit.
It made me laugh and cry.
This book is read very well. The actor gets the subtlety of the book.
If you read this book in high school, read it again and you'll appreciate it even more.
The dry reading fits the prose perfectly. Emphasis and character voices are used well. You can tell James Franco is a fan. Not to mention that the book is a classic all interested should read.
A Jersey Guy
If like me, you read this in school, all the memories will flood back about the unusual characters and situations. If this is new for you, I believe you will appreciate James Franco's soothing read. I'd been waiting a while for Mr Franco to record an audiobook. Audible had sent out a teaser by email a month early about this book, I was patient! As a fan, I particularly enjoyed his caedence and the nuances of his reading. To me it's like 'a work of art'! So it goes.
I am a live storyteller who devours huge amounts of audio books to study classics and new books so I can tell new stories.
psychedelic, surreal, chaotic
Billy's time travel back and forth and beyond and how Vonnegut made the transitions. The refrain "and so it goes" every time someone died was hilarious.
This is hard to say, because I love them all. The firebombing of Dresden and its aftermath stood out.
And So It Goes.
The novel is fresh, modern, non-linear. Vonnegut pushed the form. It requires focus to listen to. Enjoy the ride. Do not try to make sense of it. Enjoy. "And so it goes."
I last read this classic around 2004 and was pleasantly reminded of it's greatness. James Franco performed the work wonderfully in an understated and classy way. He sounded almost subdued by the text at times which is how I often feel when reading Kurt Vonnegut, it's a sort of literary Xanax.
"Worth every penny"
A great book strangely haunting yet amusing in places and Franco's performance is very soothing a mix of dryness and charm
This book does not serve to force opinions upon you. It captures the melancholy of war and gives real depth to all of the characters. Do not be put off by the time travel to another planet, this gradually becomes clear why the character does this.
I will return to this book in the future and I loved the narration.
"War is madness; sometimes literally"
A no-nonsense anti-war novel from based on the personal experience of the author. The main protagonist elicits your sympathy as he is clearly out of time, place and depth in a war that he is ill-built and equipped for. The descent into madness seems all the more reasonable as one considers the horrors that he has faced. To empathise the almost casual approach to death, there is a phrase that the author uses every time someone (or something) dies. At first you find it odd, then slightly annoying, then it begins to grate, until finally you realise just how many people have died during this novel and how casually their deaths are accepted. And, for me, that was the most chilling aspect of all.
The reading of this audiobook by Franco is laconic, almost lazy in style, yet it suits the material perfectly.
A great book that will appeal to the fans of Catch-22.
I totally loved it. book is great and Franco is class as per usual. Hopefully he does more.
"story wasn't slaughtered "
6 hours of bizarre stories. Well worth a listen made especially pleasing by James Franco.
"Great book, Great narrator"
love it start to finish, James Franco is a believable Billie Pilgrim. great tone to his voice
"A brilliant listen"
A fantastic novel read in a touchingly wry way by James Franco. I highly recommend giving it a listen.
"Excellent delivery of a timeless classic"
I don't need to say much about the novel itself. Brilliant, witty, dark at times. James Franco's performance is just deadpan enough to fit Vonnegut's style. Highly recommended!
"One of the best novels ever written."
I don't have the words to explain why this book should be read by everyone so I'll just say that it is probably the best novel about WW2 and is definitely one of the best dozen novels of the 20th Century. If you haven't read it or listened to it then this is a very good performance, it has the calm but mad tone that the books has, the same sense of fatalism that runs through the text. Do listen to it and then listen to it again, just brilliant.
It's rare to listen to a recording where the narrator is word-perfect and the editing is faultless (I can't help think that's because James Franco made no errors). The tone and delivery is so perfectly suited to the story. The only thing I didn't like was the music interrupting the final sentence. I'm so glad I came across this brilliant book.
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