by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of Billy Pilgrim, from his time as an American soldier and chaplain’s assistant, to postwar and early years. It is generally recognized as Vonnegut’s most influential and popular work. A central event is Pilgrim’s surviving the Allies’ firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner-of-war. This was an event in Vonnegut’s own life, and the novel is considered semi-autobiographical.
This novel is supposed to be Vonnegut’s best work, funny and satirical. I found it neither. As the main character keeps moving through time, there is no plot development. Things just happen and the indulgence of the writer is to fill-in and expand of each of the events in Billy Pilgrim’s life. It’s not badly written, the prose is usually sharp and to the point and at just over 50,000 words it’s a quick read, just not a very memorable one.