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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"James Franco is an inspired choice as narrator for this anti-war classic. While still young, he still manages to sound world-weary.... Franco has fun with the offbeat characters and Vonnegut's quirky text but keeps the overall tone thoughtful.... Franco's reading gives the 1960s classic a freshness that will appeal to both new listeners and Vonnegut's many fans." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 01-22-17

Everything is nothing, with a twist.

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.

72 of 80 people found this review helpful

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So it goes...and I didn't want it to end

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.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Horrible narration.

One of my all-time favorites novels ruined by a narrator who just sounds bored. Real shame.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Franco ruins this.

Franco's reading made me stop listening in under 10 minutes. Poor performance by him, I will buy the actual text instead.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Don't bother

I loved this book until James Franco butchered it. I suggest having a listen to the preview first. Wish I did.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Don't Quit Your Daytime Job, James

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.

70 of 81 people found this review helpful

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  • JL
  • 12-01-15

Good book, meh narrator

Although I liked the book, I wasn't a fan of James Franco's reading of it. His mumbling and flat affect made the book made the book feel a bit tedious.

61 of 71 people found this review helpful

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Good story, poor audio & reading

Classic 1960's writing. Terrible 2010 voice. Male vocal fry. Also, levels should have been normalized. Too much gain adjustment required. Kept having to back up position and increase volume to hear what I'd missed. Then, few minutes later, pull out the earbuds to keep from being blasted out.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Not well read

James Franco did a terrible job. Practically monotone. Audible could've gotten anybody to better than this.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Read it again.

Would you listen to Slaughterhouse-Five again? Why?

I read this book perhaps 30 years ago. I'm delighted to be reintroduced. A great author and great story. Even if depressing.

What did you like best about this story?

The dry wit.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh and cry.

Any additional comments?

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.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Cyndi
  • 05-19-16

Excellent detail and black humour

I thought James Franco's voice and readiig style suited this book perfectly. An interesting and engaging alternative treatment to the topic of war , especially those who survive it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-26-17

Great original theme and style

loved it especially the alternate title The Children's Crusade and the dedication to Mary O'Hare.

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  • chris
  • 10-18-17

Good to fall asleep to

James Franco tends to talk in a lazy monotone, which may present a challenge if you are planning to stay awake during this.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-08-17

Really good!

I really enjoyed listening to this audio book, would recommend to a friend and and family members

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  • Lyndon
  • 05-21-17

so it goes

There are affections that I want to remember as they were simply stunning. So it goes

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-01-18

Always read the classics.

Slaughterhouse Five has always been lauded as a classic of 1960’s writing, and yet I’d never gotten around to reading it. I have now ... and it IS indeed a classic. Billy Pilgrim is a hero, a laconic time-traveller, an unreliable narrator, but a man to be listened to. I’m very glad I got to this book before I die ... and so it goes.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Maria
  • 05-03-17

Definitely not a science fiction

I was throughly impressed with Slaughterhouse-Five and enjoyed it immensely. It is now in the list my most favourite books.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful