Friday, January 2, 2009

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut was just recently published when I met my wife. On one of our first dates, she gave me a stack of books by Vonnegut and Richard Bautigan. I read them all and the rest is history, as they say.

Rereading Slaughterhouse-Five after almost forty years, I'm not surprised that it is still in Amazon's top 1000 best sellers. Vonnegut's style and images stand the test of time.

The story is about the bombing of Dresden during World War II and might be considered to be of the antiwar genre so popular during the sixties, but it is much more.
It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:
American plans, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen.
Over France though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.
When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped backed to the USA, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in romote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
A great book.

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