Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
I remember reading a short story by Vonnegut in 9th grade. Maybe Slaughterhouse-Five was banned, but back then I just read whatever came our way and didn’t even know of the book’s existence. Given the other controversial books that we did read, I’d guess that we just didn’t get to it.
1) “We were connected to the institutions that supported us by means of pneumatic tubes which ran under the streets of Chicago.”
Wow I thought these tube systems were science fiction. The future floppy disks and USB drives.
2) “Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.”
I can’t quite conceptualize what this entails, but I nodded.
3) “He said that the Americans had no choice but to keep fighting in Vietnam until they achieved victory or until the Communists realized that they could not force their way of life on weak countries.”
The subtle irony is brilliant.
4) “‘You think this is bad? This ain’t bad.'” – the hobo
Somewhere in America, 2020.
5) “‘Earthlings are the great explainers, explaining why this event is structured as it is, telling how other events may be achieved or avoided.'” – a Tralfamadorian
The Dow drops 2% because x said y.
6) “‘You know – we’ve had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. “My God, my god -” I said to myself, “It’s the Children’s Crusade.”‘” – Derby
The interwebs say the average age was 26 or younger.
7) “It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters.”
Wow this idea has really solidified in my mind over the past two years. America is a great place if you want to make it. But if you don’t succeed, no one will catch you on the way down. It’s too bad that you failed, but it’s your own fault. Prayers and good thoughts.
8) “So Billy made a lollipop for him. He opened the window. He stuck the lollipop into poor old Derby’s gaping mouth. A moment passed, and then Derby burst into tears. Billy closed the window and hid the sticky spoon.”
This was the most emotional moment of the war.
9) “Later on in life, the Tralfamadorians would advise Billy to concentrate on the happy moments of his life, and to ignore the unhappy ones – to stare only at pretty things as eternity failed to go by.”
One of the best parts of growing older is that you turn bad memories into good ones and laugh.
10) “The window reflected the news. It was about power and sports and anger and death. So it goes.”
Sports are the only non-toxic part of news. Now that there are no sports, everyone should stop close their CNN tabs.
It’s perhaps lazy, but I can’t help comparing this book to Catch-22. While the latter was much more entertaining, I still enjoyed Slaughterhouse-five.