Thursday, February 26, 2015

Audio Book Review: "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Where the hell do you start in trying to break this book down into a synopsis?  The plot barely exists.  There is no real timeline.  There really aren't many characters.  The one, main, character is a man called Billy Pilgrim.  Billy has had many different moments in his life, many of them monumental and not all of them were on this planet.  He did survive the firebombing of Dresden in World War II.  He survived a plane crash.  He survived being taken to the planet of Trafalmadore.  He eventually died as expected, in exactly the way he had seen in his future during one of his time travels.  So it goes.

It all sounds rather absurd, doesn't it.  The thing is that it is genius as well as absurd and that is why it is brilliant.  The story dissects Billy's life into these timelines which instead of running all together in one long life line, run parallel or even on top one another.  The things that happen in one part of his life flow into another part - and this is the time travel.  That instant connection.  Then the entire book is told in moments.  It is explained the the Trafalmadorians  believe that life is just moments, perfectly structured in the way they are supposed to be.  One can see all the moments together.... and when one dies, they live again in another moment.  So the entire book is told in these moments, where people die but come back in another moment, in another way.  So now put all of that in context of war - against a horrific bombing that killed more people in one blow than Hiroshima.  Its mind bending.

This audio was narrated by Ethan Hawke, who I must say, has a very lovely voice.  I did not mind him telling me the story of Billy Pilgrim while I sat in Boston traffic.  The only thing that I would have preferred in this recording was if each disc was broken down into shorter tracks.  This is because I bought I super cheap car stereo, and if I am able to fast forward within a track - I haven't figured it out yet.  But I loved that there was beginning and ending music for each disc, so I knew when to change it out.  Such a small thing that makes such a difference.

by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Narrated by Ethan Hawke
Random House, 2012.  First published in 1969
Caedmon/HarperCollins (audio) 2003
275 pages
5 discs
Source:  Purchased New in print/Library audio


1 comment:

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I love audio books and so I'm always on the lookout for a good review. Especially if it's from an author I feel I should know better, like Vonnegut. I didn't realize that this novel had any of his science fiction elements to it.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, as I'm on the last disc of my current audio book and will be in need of a new one pronto.

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