Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Slaughterhouse 5: Or, the Children's Crusade, A Duty-Dance with DeathSlaughterhouse–Five – Kurt Vonnegut
Matt’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Evan’s ESS = 6 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = R (Language, Violence, Nudity, Melancholy Optometrists)
Every once and awhile, we here at Two Bibliomaniacs come across a novel that would be better reviewed by someone else.  We welcome the considerable talents of our good friend, The 200lbs Man (Matt Beers); world renowned author and leading balloon art champion, to tell you more about one of his favorite all time books…
"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

Why: When I first heard of Slaughterhouse-Five I thought it was a video game. I assumed that Slaughterhouses One through Four were pretty successful and I made a mental note to play through them all from the beginning. That was back when the Super Nintendo was the height of video game technology. I have since done some research and in doing so discovered that Slaughterhouse-Five is a book, and a very fine one at that.

Now, I don't have the luxury of arguing various points with a book-loving significant other, but rest-assured that my wife, who lives in a world of teenage vampires and country ballads, would hate this book if she could ever be bothered to read it. It starts out with Billy Pilgrim, meek, quiet, and painfully lacking in confidence, running through the snow from German soldiers in World War II. He's pushed and prodded and insulted and cussed-at and threatened and kicked by fellow soldiers when what he really wants to do is lay down and die. He's not unlike Frodo Baggins in this way, but as The Two Bibliomaniacs have yet to review the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I won't expect you to understand that reference.

Lying there in the snow, perfectly apathetic and uninterested in survival, Billy Pilgrim inexplicably time-travels. So, THAT'S weird. But Billy takes it all in stride and before the end of the book he is captured by the Germans, sent to a POW camp, survives the fire-bombing of Dresden, gets married, has children, is abducted by aliens, is widowed, and survives a plane crash.

This book is partially autobiographical. Kurt Vonnegut was a POW during WWII and he lived in slaughterhouse #5 in Dresden. When the allied forces swept through with their incendiaries, Kurt and his fellow soldiers huddled underground for safety. They were among the few survivors.

Slaughterhouse-Five is one of those books that is impossible to describe properly. Well, I'm sure that someone with more skill and patience than I have at the moment could do a very passable job of it, but at the moment I'm trying to get this review finished so I can play video games. Anyway, Slaughterhouse-Five is a wonderfully funny and insightful book. It was written by a man who had nothing but respect for all kinds of life and who saw some very shocking things from both sides of the conflict. His appreciation for what was lost is heartfelt and sincere and his bewilderment that humans could be so atrocious to one another is very clear. Considering the current world climate, I think Slaughterhouse-Five is a very poignant book.


  1. One descriptor I wanted to use in this review but failed to find an appropriate place for is "Vonnegut-tastic," which is a word I just made up.

  2. I will say, Matt, that after all that waiting around on you, quite honestly, I expected more.

    All in all, though, it was a fine review.