Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut

I read Breakfast of Champions back in high school or early college but for some reason never branched out further. It’s hard to remember my exact reaction, but I’m guessing it was a little more science fiction than I found interesting at the time. If my first Vonnegut had been this one, maybe that wouldn’t have been the case.

Probably you know what it’s about already: WWII, Dresden, a fatalist optometrist jostling back and forth through time, the 116 intonations of “So it goes” to acknowledge death and mortality. It still felt important reading it now, having read so much by people who read this and probably wanted to be as concise and humorous about terrible things, and often not even such terrible things.

And I was buoyed by Vonnegut’s introduction as Chapter 1 when he explains:

When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpiece or at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.

But not many words about Dresden came from my mind then — not enough of them to make a book, anyway.

But eventually, there was this.