Monday, September 1, 2014

September Book Club: Slaughterhouse-Five

While last month’s book read took me the entirety of the month, this month’s took me a day.  Actually less than 24 hours.  It took me one work shift, 11 hours, to read it.  So it was a refreshing change from Moby Dick.

This month’s banned/challenged book was Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.  He’s one of my favorites in the vein of science fiction, and this book especially.

The story centers on Billy Pilgrim, a war survivor who is telling his story of the war and his experience being abducted by aliens and how he began time travelling.  You get sucked into his life in the war, watching people get slaughtered and bombed and wondering who will die next.  Then you’re transported to his life on Tralfamadore, where he is in a museum like an animal and he is constantly watched by Tralfamadorians, tiny and green aliens that look mainly like a hand on a plunger.  Back and forth we go, throughout Billy’s life experiences. 

The reason the book lands on the banned and challenged list are a few different reasons.  Certain people or districts have listed vulgarity and language.  Others have cited it for being too explicit sexually, particularly Billy being naked while on display in the museum.  Seriously, people?  Kids can find porn online, but you want to ban books?  Ugh, humanity…

Some of my favorite quotes:

“And, even if wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.” Pg. 9

“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.” Pg. 9

“But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.” Pg. 25 (in reference to Lot’s wife in the bible)

“Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.” Pg. 39

“All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.” Pg. 79

“There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths or many marvelous moments seen all at one time.” Pg. 82 (love this quote)

“Everybody was legally alive now.” Pg. 84

“Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.” Pg. 107

“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” Pg. 111 (also love this)

“The listlessness concealed a mind which was fizzing and flashing thrillingly.” Pg. 169 (I aspire to this)

“So it goes.” Pg. 190 (this overarching theme in the book is amazing)

In conclusion, if you’re into sci-fi then you need to read it.  And if you’re not into sci-fi, you need to read it.  And if you’re not into reading, well what the fuck is wrong with you?  Read it, maybe it’ll fix you.

It’s a fantastic science fiction story and one for the ages.

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