Vonnegut's classic, "Slaughter House V," is one of my favorite books. It's a certain balance of science fiction and dark comedy that is a rarity in literature. "Slaughter House V" tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a POW and essentially, a time traveler.
Billy Pilgrims story isn't too unique. He's a dentist who served in the military. What is unique is how nonlinear the story telling is. It's almost like Pulp Fiction, but better! Yes, I know exactly what I said.
Vonnegut use of nonlinear story telling, from the perspective of the protagonist, provides the reader with an interesting experience. It is a though we are reading a story written by someone who suffers with dementia and maybe even Alzheimer's. Did Billy Pilgrim really experience these things? Did he really get captured by aliens?
At some point in the story, Billy is picked up by aliens (Tralfamadorians) who see in 4 dimensions. More on that in a bit. He's put on display with a famous porn star, Montana Wildhack, so that the aliens can watch them mate. Now, Tralfamadorians don't see time linearly as we do.They are able to see the past, present and future as they please. Just like rewinding and fast forwarding an old VHS tape. This makes for one of my favorite all time quotes. "Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones." Obviously much easier for a being that can see in 4 dimensions, but still a rather inspiring quote.
My favorite scene is probably when Billy gets captured as POW. He's sent to "Slaughter House V," the namesake of the book, and is greeted by jolly German men who shower him with admiration and beer. It's what you'd least expect at a POW camp. The scene is ironic, iconic and a complete betrayal to the war state present (sparsely) throughout the book.
"Slaughter House V" is one of the great sci-fi novels. The humor is surprising and the story is intense. You wonder if Billy Pilgrim is a patient at some old folks home, or if a Tralfamadorian wrote this novel in an attempt to express what it might mean to be human. Either way, it's worth the read.
Pick up "Slaughter House V" at a local bookstore to support small and family run businesses. Supporting small and family owned local businesses does a lot for our dwindling economy less we plunge ourselves into a deep dark abyss of poverty, terror and separatism. Perhaps that is our gate regardless. So it goes.