Kurt Vonnegut

Connavar

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I was wondering about Slaughterhouse Five which i have in library paperback. I couldnt find any Vonnegut threads wasnt from 2005 and only few post.

Is Slaughterhouse Five set in WWII prison camp like the synopsis says ?

When i read alittle of it to sample its the main character trying to write a big book about his war time memories.

Is the hole book like that set in that present post-WWII or do you actually get to read the memories things he is talking about ?

I know his rambling,quirky writing style after i read little of his Cat's Cradle. Nothing new there.
 

j d worthington

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Well... Slaughterhouse-Five is true sf, in that you have a bizarre sort of time-travel paradox tale: Billy is both in the present, there in the war, and in his earlier life -- as well as in his quarters on Tralfalmador -- all simultaneously. Hence, depending on how his consciousness is working at the moment, you get either the Billy Pilgrim who isn't aware of the future/past, or is... which affects how his memories/experiences work.

It's quite a little tour de force, a great deal of fun, but also has a lot of very serious thought about humanity behind it. Highly recommended as an enjoyable and very thought-provoking read.
 

Connavar

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That sounds very good cause i was wondering what is really sf about a war story. I didnt know if i should i expect any sf elements.

When i read classic sf i dont like to go in blind to the book, i want give the work and the writer a fair chance. Not go in expecting a different type work.

His writing style is very interesting. Its so fast,quirky. Its like fast talking stand up comic.

Good i will read it as soon as i finish my James M Cain book.
 

j d worthington

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I doubt it would have been this, or Cat's Cradle, etc. These have long been considered gems of the sf field, and did quite well as far as sales; have remained in print consistently since first published, etc. Player Piano (his first novel) is a bit lackluster, but not inaccessible.

I haven't read his work for some years; since about the period of Galapagos, actually; so I don't know how those later novels read; but before that, I'd say Vonnegut was an extremely accessible writer....
 

dask

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Read CAT'S CRADLE in college back in the early 70s and while I didn't actively dislike it, I found it failed to do much for me. Probably should try something else by him to see if my preferences have altered any.
 

Connavar

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I doubt it would have been this, or Cat's Cradle, etc. These have long been considered gems of the sf field, and did quite well as far as sales; have remained in print consistently since first published, etc. Player Piano (his first novel) is a bit lackluster, but not inaccessible.

I haven't read his work for some years; since about the period of Galapagos, actually; so I don't know how those later novels read; but before that, I'd say Vonnegut was an extremely accessible writer....
I wouldnt say he is inaccessible but he is something different for a new reader of his. He doesnt write straightforward writing style like most famous sf authors from his era. The rambling way Slaughterhouse 5 and Deadeye Dick reminded me alittle of PKD.

Reading Slaugtherhouse 5 i forget after 10 pages he was a new writer for me. So he is far from inaccessible to me.
 

Omphalos

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Ive liked most Vonnegut stories that I have read. The Sirens of Titan is a favorite. Galapagos was decent. Evolutionary SF. I have Timequake sitting in my pile, but I'm a little wary of it. Seems like its going to be bad.
 

j d worthington

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Anyone here ever read Happy Birthday, Wanda June? (You should avoid the film, despite some good performances, because it was inevitably edited from the staged version.) That one is quite delightfully barbed... and to think, we almost put on a production of that at our high school...:p
 

soulsinging

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Read CAT'S CRADLE in college back in the early 70s and while I didn't actively dislike it, I found it failed to do much for me. Probably should try something else by him to see if my preferences have altered any.
This is how I react to Vonnegut usually. I find that I always WANT to like him more than I actually do like him. The books are breezy and pleasant at the time, rather amusing and quirky and funny with some great one-liners and hip cynical philosophy. But at the end, they're pretty forgettable and the plots always blur together to me. I kinda feel like if you've read one you've read them all.
 

Connavar

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Every time he says "So it goes" i laugh or chuckle. Sometimes at morbid things he says.

I like it very much how witty,fun it is while he is still telling a serious story. The book got in real high gear when the story of Billy Pilgrim started.

The first 16 pages before that felt like a long introduction in comparison.
 

j d worthington

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Yes, Vonnegut had a wryly affectionate view of the human race. He saw enormous potential, and a great deal that was of merit, but he also saw how utterly foolish we can all-too-often be, and how, even with the best of intentions, we quite frequently shoot ourselves in the foot. I know that, given he was a survivor of the bombing of Dresden (where he was a POW), the irony and black comedy of that episode never ceased to make its impression:

Kurt Vonnegut - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And I think that's what keeps Vonnegut's work from being what I would call either "funny" (in the usual sense) or "hiply" cynical -- the humor is almost always the same sort as one finds in Twain or Bierce: an almost painfully dry awareness of our stupidities and imbecilities; while the cynicism (if it can be called that, which I doubt) is deeply informed by genuine life experiences of a remarkable sort. My disagreement with the term cynical is because, bitterly humorous as they often are, there is a strong degree of affection and optimism concerning the human race that permeates his books; a belief -- never openly stated, but implied by the very way in which they are written -- that we may just be worth all the trouble if we'll only grow up a little.

And I must admit I've never found his books (even Player Piano, which is the weakest of them I've read) forgettable; it's been nearly 30 years since I read the majority of them and, while incidentals of plot have faded, nonetheless the impression of the books remains quite strong. Sadly, I no longer have my copies of his books, and I need to track them down once again....:(
 

Allegra

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And I think that's what keeps Vonnegut's work from being what I would call either "funny" (in the usual sense) or "hiply" cynical -- the humor is almost always the same sort as one finds in Twain or Bierce: an almost painfully dry awareness of our stupidities and imbecilities; while the cynicism (if it can be called that, which I doubt) is deeply informed by genuine life experiences of a remarkable sort. My disagreement with the term cynical is because, bitterly humorous as they often are, there is a strong degree of affection and optimism concerning the human race that permeates his books; a belief -- never openly stated, but implied by the very way in which they are written -- that we may just be worth all the trouble if we'll only grow up a little.
Excellent points, J.D.!


Connavar, a few more I'd like to recommend highly:

Breakfast of Champions
Timequake
The Sirens of Titan
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Mother Night (also world war II theme)
 

gully_foyle

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I haven't read a Vonnegut book I didn't like. So far that includes:
Slaughterhouse 5
The Sirens of Titan
Breakfast of Champions
Cat's Cradle
Slapstick
and
Player Piano
 

MontyCircus

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I've only read Breakfast of Champions so far. Very, very strange. Especially when he...how to say...maybe...broke the fifth (or sixth?) wall I guess you could say. That's about when my head exploded.

I can't say it all made sense to me. More of a beautiful mess. I look forward to going back for more :)
 

Fried Egg

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Well, I just finsihed "Slaughterhouse Five" today and I thought it was an outstanding piece of work. I enjoyed it more than "Sirens of Titan". But I'm confused to exactly what was Vonnegut's message.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference."

This seems at odds with:

"Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does."

The latter being a quote from Billy Pilgrim who passively and apathetically goes about his life accordingly after being convinced by the Tralfalmadorians that there is no such thing as free will.
 

hitmouse

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Not sure that there is a single message, but a lot of it can be summed up by the recurring phrase, "So it goes."

A major theme is the inevitibility of random **** happening.
 

j d worthington

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Not sure that there is a single message, but a lot of it can be summed up by the recurring phrase, "So it goes."

A major theme is the inevitibility of random **** happening.
And both the humor and pathos of that condition of the universe. As a prisoner of war who survived the bombing of Dresden by his own side -- which event came closest to putting him among the Great Majority -- Vonnegut always had a wry yet largely compassionate approach to the asburdity of existence....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Vonnegut#World_War_II
 

SusanWright

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I think at heart Vonnegut's theme rests on his atheism, always questioning existence, fate, free will and the absurdity of believing there is more to life beyond our own immediate experience.
 
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