Review: Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (Paperback) by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


In an interview, Kurt Vonnegut explained that he writes all his novels in short, uncluttered sentences, never using words or phrases that a teenager couldn’t understand. He joked this was because he wanted to get onto high-school curriculums, and the sight of a semi-colon would scare the kids off. This simplicity also generates a fairy tale like feel to SH5, making you wonder whether Billy Pilgrim genuinely is lost in time, or whether he’s losing his mind, or even that he’s just a dreamer.

SH5 is hailed as “one of the world’s great anti-war books”. I didn’t see that, which genuinely disappointed me and makes me wonder if I’m illiterate! Lights are shone on the crimes of war, how normal people are thrust into terrible situations, but I read that as documenting events, rather than being critical.

Either way, this short novel brilliantly combines humour and pathos, even if the anti-war elements are dead to me. So it goes.