Saturday, September 3, 2011

12-Books-in-12-Months Challenge: A Book You Don't Really Want to Read

But Everyone Keeps Raving About It

Book: Slaughterhouse Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut

My dislike of Kurt Vonnegut's books goes back to senior year in high school. We had a teacher who was trying to be cool and "connect with the kids" so instead of a survey of English and American literature like we were supposed to do, we read Breakfast of Champions and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Drifters by James Michener. Of those 3 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the only one I like, well love. I feel like we must have read a Tom Robbins novel and thus my visceral dislike of him stems from then as well. However, I went to a Catholic school and it seems unlikely.

I could be using my class as a cover to explain to those who love Vonnegut why I don't like him. His fans seem to be a legion. Truth be told I really didn't like the book or ever want to read another book by him again. But I've felt guilty about it all these years (see I did go to Catholic school) that perhaps I hadn't given him a fair shake. Especially since I have been told by those who love Kurt Vonnegut that Breakfast of Champions is not the book to start with and even some of those who love his writing find it difficult.

Unfortunately, a second shake did not overcome my dislike of his writing. Most of what I dislike about it is sort of encapsulated in the longer title of the book -

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, A Fourth-Generation German-American Low Living in Easy Circumstances on Cape Cod [and Smoking Too Much], Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire Bombing of Dresden, Germany, ‘The Florence of the Elbe,’ a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale. This is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where the Flying Saucers Come From. Peace.

If you haven't read Slaughterhouse Five and the whole title sounds amusing and like something you'd want to read, you'd probably like the book. If it just sounds annoying to you, like it does to me, then you should probably continue to skip reading it.

I hope that you, too, will join the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Details are on Armchair Squid where you can also read up on what he's been reading as well as other who are doing the challenge.

1 comment:

  1. This is only fair in light of all the grief I give you over French lit.