You Can’t Please Everyone – Slaughterhouse Five

One star Amazon reviews of classic movies, music and literature. Today we take a look at Slaughterhouse Five:

While cultural pundits try to convince you that some literature is better than other literature, the truth is that all art is relative to individial tastes. Thus, it doesn’t make any sense to think that a novel like this one is really any better than say, Michael Crichton or Stephen King. Aesthetic standards can’t be grounded.

Thus, don’t listen to anyone who tries to distinguish between “serious” works of literature like this one and allegedly “lesser” novels. The distinction is entirely illusory, because no novels are “better” than any others, and the concept of a “great novel” is an intellectual hoax.

I prefer Daniele Steele, and there’s no basis for telling me I’m wrong. Vonnegut is no better or worse than Daniele Steele!

This without a doubt ranks up there with the WORST books I have ever read. Pointless, poorly written, and incredibly dull.

If you want some great writing, try Ayn Rand.

I don’t like how Vonnegut down-plays death. What’s the phrase? “and so it goes”? I also don’t like how the author puts down morals and values. I don’t care if Pilgrim has been through war, that doesn’t give him an excuse to loose all human pride.

This book was so confusing. All the events were out of order, and the time skipped around a lot, and I was so lost. I didn’t understand what was happening, and I still don’t know what exactly the “slaughterhouse five” is. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone…it was a waste of time to read it.

Awful language and no point. And if I see the phrase “so it goes” one more time, I’m going to scream!
Why in the world this is considered a classic is beyond me.

A tangled mess of disjointed scenes and uninspiring ramblings. This is not a work of art. It is poorly constructed and shows no signs of good writing ability. What a disappointment.

Why the fuss with this book? It was boring, tedious, and made no point. Vonnegut’s works are depressing and life-hating, which stems from his suicidal tendencies.

O.K., I read it, but I literally have no idea what this book is about. And I’m not reading it again to find out either. Apparently, people like almost anything in life, which is really a sad commentary on the human condition.

I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I didn’t like the constant skipping around of text.

To judge by your reviews, I’m certainly in the minority. I read this book for a reading group and the best thing I can say is that it was mercifully short. I found the style disjointed and artifical. True, it gave one a desolate feeling about war and its follies, but cerainly other books have done it better, certainly in a more attainable less tedious style.

This was the WORST book I have ever read in my life! I would’nt even give it 1 stars, I would give it -11! If you are thinking about reading this book I suggest you not. This book was very confusing, and it had no plot. I think that there are to many good books in this world to be wasting your time reading this horrible book!

Let me start by saying that I consider myself an educated reader. I have an English degree and have worked as a translator. I plan to become an English professor, and while 20th-century American is not my field, even if it were, I would never teach this book.

The narrative style is not a problem for me as it has been for a few other reviewers. Woolf and Joyce opened the door for non-linear narration, and they proved that it could be done brilliantly (see Mrs. Dalloway). The problem is that the book is honestly pointless. One might argue that that’s the point: War makes things pointless. But I do not see any justification for this book’s existence. It does not break new ground for humor, for tragedy, or for war protest — but perhaps it does for pointlessness.

This is supposed to be a classic, and I finally got to around to reading it. I did not find it to be good satire, good science fiction or good anything. Not even a good read. Not particularly profound. It is graphic and profane at times. It is too cynical and defeatist for my taste. The point I got is: no sense in trying to change anything, things are going to happen the way they’re going to happen and nothing is going to change them. The “war is bad” message in chapter one is lost in the confusion of the remaining chapters. I might have liked it better in college when being cynical and blase was cool.

Slaughterhouse-Five is one of those rare sorts of books whose total lack of any merit whatsoever is inexplicable in the face of its generally agreed upon status as a world classic.

Had this fatalistic, dewy-eyed tripe not been written during the escalation of ‘Nam and the sudden moral ambiguity pervading American letters at the time, it would, honestly, never have made it close.

This is sad. The literati have doubtless showered numerous accolades at its feet, though what, for instance, is there to celebrate in this pure dreck?

Vonnegut’s cheap cynicism? The novel itself, when not drowning in a sea of depression and cathartic murkiness, hardly makes a joke worth mentioning that doesn’t revile the establishment, turn the hardship of soldiers into a complete and utter disgrace, revile all war, and then have the sheer scholastic arrogance to proclaim once and for all, as though this distorted face were really truth. Yes, as a ‘satire’, it fails completely.

So we come down to technique. The structure of the novel is mildly interesting, and the minimalism flows well. The writing is fairly clear and potentially charged; if only the subject matter had been improved upon, than perhaps the author could have gotten away with the awards. As such, this is hardly the case.

In short, it’s nothing groundbreaking. And moreover it is dangerous. Not to mention very worthless. Had it been a great absurdist parable like Catch 22 (which, though also wrong, has strong artistic license, and will likely stand the ages) than I would have rather different sentiments.

1 star.

I read this book in an afternoon for a book club. Thank goodness I did not have to waste any more time on it! Other reviewers have mentioned the humor and supposedly wonderful insights offered by this book. I found neither. Yes, Mr. Vonnegut, war is bad. Not a revelation.

This book is… how to describe its badness… random. I don’t have anything against that, but Slaughterhouse-5 is so random that it just doesn’t make sense at all. It doesn’t seem to have a point, and it loses all credibility when it talks about how Billy Pilgrim has an “enormous wang.” If this is such a great anti-war book, why doesn’t it make that point? All war books describe the conflict, but usually not fictitiously (if that’s a word…). My main problem, apart from the uber-randomness, is that the events in the book didn’t actually happen, and the main character didn’t actually go through the war, because he didn’t exist.
I’m a freshman in high school, and I was relieved when my English G/T (Lyceum) teacher confirmed my suspiciouns that Kurt Vonnegut was, in fact, high. I wouldn’t really mind if it were a good book (example: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey), but it really isn’t. I suppose that one could infer from that statement that I endorse drug use for inspiration, but I don’t. I just don’t mind if it’s a good boo–what the heck am I talking about?
Sorry for going on a rant there. My point is that the book doesn’t have a point, so don’t read it.

12 Comments

  1. Long ago my bf and I were going to a wedding in Boston and stayed at the Ritz Carlton. We stepped onto an elevator in which stood Kurt Vonnegut and his wife. My bf and Mrs. Vonnegut chatted about this and that as I stared dumbly at Kurt Vonnegut in silent awe. He gave me a broad knowing smile. It was such an honor to have shared the same space for that brief period. What an amazing man!

  2. While cultural pundits try to convince you that some literature is better than other literature, the truth is that all art is relative to individial tastes. (…) The distinction is entirely illusory, because no novels are “better” than any others, and the concept of a “great novel” is an intellectual hoax.

    This is a copy-paste job. See the YCPE “1984” reviews. Pathetic.

  3. Miss Poppy Hussein Dixon are you serious? I would trade winning a million dollars for your shared time with Kurt Vonnegut. But you didn’t say anything to him? HOW?

    Anyway… sigh… I didn’t like Slaughter House 5. I don’t like Cat’s Cradle either. I was MOVED by Welcome to the Monkey House and Bluebeard.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Vonnegut and I’m well on my way to finishing the body of most of his works.

  4. I love the relativistic argument of the first one.
    I did a little copy/paste job of my own:

    While cultural pundits try to convince you that some ideology is better than other ideology, the truth is that all morals are relative to individial tastes.

    […]

    I prefer Nazism, and there’s no basis for telling me I’m wrong. Humanism is no better or worse than Nazism!

  5. “If you want some great writing, try Ayn Rand.”

    That made me throw up just a little…but that person saying Daniel Steele was just as good as Vonnegut made me projectile vomit all over my monitor! Newsflash: Daniel Steele is NOT as good as Vonnegut; heck, she’s not even as good as Dean Koontz! In all probability, Bill O’Reilley is a better novelist than Steele, as is the dishwasher at Denny’s. And by “dishwasher” I am referring to the machine itself, not the person.

  6. First this:

    While cultural pundits try to convince you that some literature is better than other literature, the truth is that all art is relative to individial tastes.

    Then this:

    If you want some great writing, try Ayn Rand.

    All we need is for a Twilight fan to weigh in and we’ll have reached Idiot Nirvana.

  7. Honestly, I disliked this book. I have not read more of Vonnegut, but this book was thoroughly disappointing. It was exactly this website that had hyped Vonnegut and so I was expecting something marvelous. It is the only book I actually took the time to seriously read in my English Class. I can’t say that I feel too rewarded. The idea of skipping around time diluted the idea that Vonnegut was trying to convey. I finished the book thinking “So what?” And I came up with almost nothing. I saw no humor. I saw no anti-war sentiment. It was simply reporting, as if I was watching a non-biased news network (of the kind that don’t exist). Like I said, thoroughly disappointing.

  8. Dido said:

    It was simply reporting, as if I was watching a non-biased news network

    This is the stupidest review I’ve read about the book since…. well, the reviews above.

    Really, simple reporting like from a network. Which part would that be? The non-linear timeline that jumps around or the part where he is transported to Tralfamadore? Reading FAIL!

  9. i actually agree with the first one, to blindly accept ‘literature’ as being great is foolish, and there are many authors i’ve read that write great things that will probably never be classics, and classics i thought were crappy. and classics become so because of popularity.

    but vonnegut is effing amazing and i think that if she values her self respect she should reread it and LIKE IT. lol i’m kidding. but seriously.

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