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Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary American Literature’

I have wanted to read Jesmyn Ward’sSing, Unburied, Sing‘ ever since I read one of my friend’s review of it. I finally got a chance to read it and I am so glad I did.

Sing, Unburied, Sing‘ tells the story of an American family and the complex relationships between the family members. When the story starts we hear the story through the voice of Jojo, who is a school-going boy who lives with his grandparents. His grandparents – his mother’s parents – have brought him up, and he calls them Mam and Pop. He calls his own mother by her name Leonie. Jojo has a younger sister, Kayla. He loves Kayla very much and is very protective of her. Jojo’s life is complex because while his maternal grandparents and mother are black, his father Michael is white. His paternal grandparents – Michael’s parents – don’t acknowledge the existence of Jojo or his sister or his mother. When the story starts, we discover that Michael has been in prison and he is going to be released. Leonie wants to take her kids to the prison and meet Michael and bring him back. Pop doesn’t approve of her taking the children on a long drive, but Leonie doesn’t listen to him. Jojo protests too, because he knows that the trip is going to be a hard and tough, as his relationship with his mother has always been a difficult one, but Leonie overrules him. What happens during this long road trip, and after that, forms the rest of the story.

I loved the realistic portrayal of the characters in ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’. My favourite characters were Jojo, Pop and Mam. I wish I had someone like Pop and Mam in my life. I mostly hated Leonie, but she was portrayed beautifully too in all her imperfect and flawed glory. The story runs at an even pace and the pages turn themselves. Jesmyn Ward’s prose glides along elegantly and unobtrusively and is a pleasure to read. The story is told alternately through the voices of Jojo and Leonie and occasionally a new character called Richie pops in and narrates his story. There are many beautiful moments in the story, especially when the relationship between Pop and Jojo are described, and that of Mam and Leonie are described, and when Pop narrates his relationship with Richie. There are also heartbreaking moments, especially when a surprise is revealed in the end. I can’t tell you what it is – I will let you read the book and find it out yourself. At one point in the book, Leonie thinks – “I can’t be a mother now. I can’t be a daughter. I can’t remember. I can’t see. I can’t breathe.” When I read that, I wanted to scream at her and say – “What is your problem? You have inspiring, kind parents. You have beautiful, well behaved children. Why can’t you do one thing right? How long are you going to make one bad decision after another?” At another point towards the end, Leonie says this about her son, Jojo – “And then he’s looking at me and he’s hard as Pop and soft as Mama. Censure and pity. I’m a book and he can read every word. I know this. He sees me. He knows it all.” I cried when I read that. That is how good the book is. It makes you happy, it makes you sad, it makes you angry, it breaks your heart.

I loved ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing‘. It is a story of love, loss, family, the complex relationship between parents and children, how different communities find it difficult to tolerate each other and struggle to live with each other and inflict pain on each other, the questionable choices we make as flawed human beings, the redemption that might be open to us. It is no surprise that it won the National Book Award. I can’t wait to read Jesmyn Ward’s other acclaimed novel ‘Salvage the Bones‘.

Have you read Jesmyn Ward’sSing, Unburied, Sing‘? What do you think about it?

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I discovered ‘Glaciers’ by Alexis Smith through the Caroline’s (from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat) review of it. Something about the book and Caroline’s description of the Tin House edition made me want to read the book. I finished reading it yesterday. Here is what I think.

Glaciers By Alexis Smith

‘Glaciers’ follows one day in the life of Isabel. Isabel lives in Portland, Oregon. She works in a library and repairs old books. She lives a quiet, contented life. She takes pleasure in the small, simple things – shopping for a nice secondhand dress which is atleast a few decades old, buying an old vintage postcard or photograph, wrapping her hands around a hot cup of tea and sipping her tea slowly, making gentle conversations with office friends, eating lunch alone at a quiet vegetarian restaurant. After a few pages we fall in love with Isabel. Isabel also likes one of her office co-workers, Spoke. He, of course, doesn’t know it, because he seems to be equally introverted like Isabel. They have quiet, brief conversations in the morning at the cafeteria in the office, before others arrive. On this particular day, the story moves between the present and the past – we learn about Isabel’s childhood in Alaska, about what happened to her parents and how she moved to Portland, about her aunt and uncle (the Astrologer and the Carpenter) who treat Isabel and her sister like grownups but who are also kind to them, about the glaciers melting, about how Isabel’s fascination with old photos and postcards (‘ephemera’) started. The present day story continues with Isabel getting ready to go to work, her quiet conversation with Spoke, her accidental lunch with Spoke, her wanting to invite him to a party in the evening. How Isabel’s past and present entwine and whether she is able to declare her love to Spoke and what happens to them, form the rest of the story.

‘Glaciers’ is a book to be read slowly. After the first few pages I totally fell in love with Isabel. Alexis Smith uses simple prose to paint soft, gentle, beautiful scenes in very page. I was angry and annoyed for some reason while reading the book and the book soothed and calmed me and made my heart glow with pleasure. It was really therapeutic. There were beautiful scenes painted in every page. Like this :

She cups her tea in both hands, fingers wrapping around the cup and meeting on the other side.

And this :

The summer light was fading and there was a lightness in the air, so that voices seemed to float in the window several seconds after they were spoken.

And this :

The brevity of the postcard – the intense focus on the moment in the park – it was as intimate as a young man could be. Like reaching out and brushing a strand of hair from her eyes.

And this :

Isabel found herself staring into her box at her belongings, noticing how different they looked, like they had suddenly lost the context of her life.

And this :

Everything they’ve never said flows into the narrow space between them.

And this :

She stirs, puts the hot spoon into her mouth, the metal and sweetness burning her tongue.

And this :

The crows woke her, in the trees outside; they slipped into that place between dreaming and waking.

And this, one of my favourite conversations in the book :

      There are treasures everywhere, her father told her.

What kind of treasures? she asked.

All kinds. Like this, he said, grinning, holding up a record…

Oh, Isabel said, unsure if this was actually proof.

Belly, he said, putting the record down on his stack and squatting next to her, it’s a treasure if you love it. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, or whether anyone else wants it. If you love it, you will treasure it, does that make sense?

The book is worth reading for these beautiful images and scenes alone. It also tells the story of a gentle soul.

There are interesting literary references in the book – I could spot James Baldwin, Ford Maddox Ford, Elizabeth Hardwick, Samuel Delaney, Virginia Woolf. I am sure that if I looked more closely, there will be more. I don’t know whether this is true, but the book also seems to pay homage to James Joyce with the absence of punctuation marks and the circular nature of the ending. Clearly Alexis Smith is well read and has a sophisticated, fine literary mind.

As the story is set in Portland, one of my favourite cities where one of my favourite friends is from, I thought there will be something about the city in the book. Maybe a mention of Laurelhurst pub or the Rose garden or the Portland State University. Unfortunately, there was not much of the city in the book. I remember seeing a mention of the Columbia river gorge though.

The Tin House edition of the book that I read is beautifully produced. My favourite parts of the cover were the back cover and the inside flap at the back. When we look at the back cover, it looks like a torn paper is on top of the actual cover. It also looks like the book has got wet at some point – maybe because someone carried it out while it was raining – and those water stains are there on the back cover. I know these stains by experience because some of my books which got wet have stains like this. It took me a while to realize that these stains were not real but they were the magic of the artist. Also, when I looked at the inside back flap, the torn part looked very real and I had to pinch myself and check the picture again to assure myself that it was the artist’s magic. Simple artwork, but very beautiful.

‘Glaciers’ is a wonderful debut novel. I loved it. It is a book that I will keep dipping back into again and again to savour the beautiful, gentle images. I can’t wait to find out what Alexis Smith comes up with next.

Have you read Alexis Smith’s ‘Glaciers’? What do you think about it?

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I discovered Anne Tyler’s ‘Breathing Lessons’ by luck. One of my favourite bookshops sends a monthly newsletter. They still do it the old-fashioned way – they print out a 20-page glossy newsletter, there is a letter from the publisher on the first page, and there is a three or four page literary fiction section and they send it to their readers every month. I browse through this newsletter every month and sometimes I buy some of the featured books. Sometimes I buy more than my share as I have been doing in recent months. One of the recent newsletters featured Anne Tyler’s ‘Breathing Lessons’. I haven’t heard of Anne Tyler before. The description of this book by her was quite interesting. It was also a large print edition. I haven’t read a large print edition and so wanted to see how it was. (More on this in a while.)

Breathing Lessons By Anne Tyler

As happens frequently when we discover a new author, we suddenly stumble upon the author’s name in all kinds of unlikely places. I was browsing through Allie Condie’s ‘Matched’ series as I was thinking of reading the second and third parts. In the interview featured in the book, Allie Condie said Anne Tyler was her favourite author and she loved reading anything by Tyler. Then I discovered that Anne Tyler was one of those reclusive authors – she didn’t give interviews, she didn’t go on book tours, she didn’t give talks, she didn’t write essays and book reviews for literary magazines to ensure that readers continue to remember her and she didn’t do the myriad other things that writers are expected to do today. She just wrote books and let her books do the talking. There is something old-fashionably romantic in a reclusive writer and I totally loved her for that. Then I also discovered that ‘Breathing Lessons’ won the Pulitzer prize in 1989.

 

How can one resist the book after all this? I got ‘Breathing Lessons’ and started reading it last week and finished reading it yesterday. Here is what I think.

 

‘Breathing Lessons’ follows a day in the life of Maggie and her husband Ira. Maggie and Ira have been married for twenty-eight years. Both of them are close to fifty years old. Maggie and Ira have a son, Jesse, and a younger daughter Daisy, who is leaving for college soon. One day Maggie gets a call from her best friend Serena. Serene says that her husband recently passed away and the memorial service is going to be held the next day, which is a Saturday. Maggie convinces Ira to come with her the next day morning and they plan to drive to Serena’s place, which is a long drive away. During the long drive, Maggie thinks about her pas and about her son Jesse. Maggie’s son Jesse is divorced from his wife Fiona. Jesse was an aspiring musician when he met Fiona and both of them were teenagers then and very much in love. One day Fiona gets pregnant and tries to have an abortion. But Jesse tries to convince her to have the child. Maggie helps out Jesse by doing her part in convincing Fiona. Due to Maggie’s intervention, Jesse and Fiona get married, eventhough they are still teenagers. But, over time, things don’t work out well for them – they end up having misunderstandings and fights,  sometimes because of the involvement of Maggie and others, and at some point they part company and get divorced. Maggie wants them to get back together, because she believes that both of them are still in love with each other. So she tries to convince Ira that during their ride back after the memorial service, they should stop by at Fiona’s place. During the memorial services, Maggie meets many of her school classmates. And it looks like Serena has planned an unusual memorial service which astonishes most of her friends. What happens then and what happens later when Maggie and Ira go to Fiona’s place form the rest of the story.

 

I enjoyed reading ‘Breathing Lessons’. Maggie is quite an interesting character. She is constantly meddling in other people’s affairs, sometimes even in those of strangers, in a well intentioned way because she wants them to be happy, and many times, she makes things worse. It doesn’t stop her from trying harder though. Sometimes what she does irritates us, but after a while, we can’t resist her affection and charm and her noble intentions and we fall in love with her.  Sometimes when her meddling results in good things, it makes Maggie and us happy. Her husband, Ira, by contrast, stays aloof from other people’s affairs, even if the others are his own son and daughter. The contrasting ways in which Maggie and Ira approach the small and big situations in their lives is very interesting to read. In one place this contrast is depicted nicely by the author :

 

So the world was not as Ira had perceived it, evidently. It was more the way Maggie perceived it. She was the one who got along in it better, collecting strays who stuck to her like lint and falling into heart-to-heart talks with total strangers.

 

Maggie’s children, Jesse and Daisy, are interesting characters too, and so is Jesse’s former wife Fiona and Maggie’s friend Serena. There is a character called Mr.Otis, whom Maggie and Ira pick up from the highway during their drive, and he is quite interesting too.

 

The story doesn’t end in the way that one might expect, but the ending is perfect. It is complex and messy like life is, and we leave Maggie plotting one more scheme to meddle in other people’s lives to make them happy.

 

Now, something on the large-print feature of the novel. In these days of the Kindle and the iPad, the type and size of the font doesn’t matter, because we can change that to what we want. But during old times font sizes did matter because the bigger the font size the thicker the book and the more number of pages it had which would result in the increase in the cost of production of the book. So books which had more words had smaller font sizes and books with lesser number of words had bigger font sizes. But most books had a standard font size. I have discovered across the years – and I don’t know whether this is how my mind got conditioned or whether all readers feel the same way – that there is an optimal font size which made my reading experience intense. If the size of the font was larger than this, then it made me relax and read the book in a less intense way. I don’t know what was the exact font size at which this happened, but when I look at a font size, I can tell whether it is going to be an intense read or a relaxed read. The edition of ‘Breathing Lessons’ I read had a font size which would make it a relaxed read. (The only other books with this kind of huge font sizes that I have read were abridged versions of classics published by Baronet Books, which had an illustration on one page and text on the next.) But it was also a work of literary fiction and a Pulitzer Prize winner at that, and so I was interested in finding out how my reading experience would be. Well, I have to say that my reading experience was pleasant and relaxed and I was also able to read faster, because of the big font size. But I was also able to appreciate the beautiful passages and scenes that Anne Tyler wrote and re-read many of my favourite passages after I finished the book. I think it was fun reading a literary fiction book in big size font. I would like to try it again.

 

‘Breathing Lessons’ is a charming, lovable novel. It is sad and humorous at the same time. I think it is what one would call a traditional American novel, with focus on the plot with lots of dialogue, depicting everyday life with believable characters and beautifully described scenes. The characters in it feel real and sometimes we are able to see echoes of real people we know in the story. I liked everything about it starting from the fact that it depicts the events of one day (like the ancient Greek playwrights used to do), the charming character of Maggie and her meddling and loving ways and the perfect ending. I can’t wait to read more of Anne Tyler’s works.

 

I will leave you with a link to Emma’s (from Book Around the Corner) beautiful review of the book and some of my favourite passages from the book.

 

Men just generated wires and cords and electrical tape everywhere they went, somehow. They might not even be aware of it.

 

They entered Pennsylvania and the road grew smooth for a few hundred yards, like a good intention, before settling back to the same old scabby, stippled surface.

 

Why did popular songs always focus on romantic love? Why this preoccupation with first meetings, sad partings, honeyed kisses, heartbreak, when life was also full of children’s births and trips to the shore and longtime jokes with friends? Once Maggie had seen on TV where archaeologists had just unearthed a fragment of music from who knows how many centuries B.C., and it was a boy’s lament for a girl who didn’t love him back. Then besides the songs there were the magazine stories and the novels and the movies, even the hair-spray ads and the pantyhose ads. It struck Maggie as disproportionate. Misleading, in fact.

 

…she had taken real joy in rounding out a note just right, like a pearl or a piece of fruit that hung in the air a moment before it fell away.

 

When they stepped out of the church it was like stepping out of a daytime movie – that sudden shock of sunshine and bird-song and ordinary life that had been going on without them.

 

I mean you’re given all these lessons for the unimportant things – piano-playing, typing. You’re given years and years of lessons in how to balance equations, which Lord knows you will never have to do in normal life. But how about parenthood? Or marriage, either, come to think of it. Before you can drive a car you need a state-approved course of instruction, but driving a car is nothing, nothing, compared to living day in and day out with a husband and raising up a new human being.

 

Have you read Anne Tyler’s ‘Breathing Lessons’? What do you think about it?

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I read Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Prodigal Summer’ last year and liked it very much. I had wanted to read other books by her since that time. When I discovered that she has come out with a new book, I couldn’t resist getting it. I finished reading ‘Flight Behavior’ yesterday and here is what I think.

Flight Behavior By Barbara Kingsolver

‘Flight Behavior’ is about a farm wife, Dellarobia, and her life. Dellarobia lives near the mountains alongwith her husband and works in the farm of her in-laws. When she was in high school, she had wanted to go to college, but she got pregnant and so got married to Cub. Unfortunately, her child is stillborn, but she stays married to Cub and later has a son, Preston, and a daughter, Cordie. She is not very happy with her life though she loves her children. She likes her husband, but she feels that she and her husband are different in many ways and her parents-in-law aren’t really nice to her. One day, to escape from her dreary life, she drives up the mountain to meet a young man and have an affair with him, unmindful of the consequences (It is the first scene in the story. The first sentence in the book is a beautiful, trademark Barbara Kingsolver first sentence – “A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture.”). When she reaches the top, she sees a glorious sight. The valley seems to be filled with a lake of fire. Dellarobia is astounded and she thinks this is a sign. She comes back home without meeting the young man. Meanwhile her father-in-law signs a contract with a logging company to cut down the trees in the mountain. When his family protests, he refuses to listen to them. Dellarobia tells her husband to first checkout the mountain before deciding to cut the trees. The whole family goes up the mountain. And they see what Dellarobia had seen earlier. The only difference is that the scene is not a lake of fire. It is an ocean of monarch butterflies – millions and millions of them – which give that illusion. Soon everyone in the town is talking about how Dellarobia had this vision. TV channels arrive for her interview. A scientist comes with his assistants and starts research. Dellarobia becomes friends with him and after a while gets to work in his team. She discovers that the presence of so many monarch butterflies is not a good sign. It is probably because of global warming which might lead to the extinction of this butterfly species. What happens next – to the butterfly species and to Dellarobia – forms the rest of the story.

 

‘Flight Behavior’ is an interesting story which deals with two themes – the travails of a farm wife and the issue of climate change. Barbara Kingsolver blends the particular and the general quite well and weaves these two diverse strands into a beautiful whole – while one strand of the story depicts how the monarch butterfly faces challenges posed by the environment and tries to adapt to change, the second strand shows how Dellarobia faces the challenges posed by her restraining circumstances and how she adapts herself to face them and overcome them. Though climate change plays an important part in the book, I think what stands out in the story is the travails of the farm wife – how Dellarobia is talented but she is restrained by her circumstances which stunt her from growing as a person and prevent her talents from flowering. There are no ‘bad guys’ in the story who are preventing her from realizing her potential – it is just the way things are. The trademark Barbara Kingsolver sentences keep appearing throughout the book. The farming parts of the story are described in detail. One of my favourite scenes in the book is the one where a ewe gives birth to a baby sheep which seems to be stillborn and Dellarobia revives it and get it to breathe. Small town scenes are painted beautifully throughout the book – like getting children ready for the school bus in the morning, shopping at a second hand goods store, going to church on Sundays, how neighbours influence each other and intrude into each other’s lives, how the local pastor plays an influential role in the lives of people.

 

When I read ‘Flight Behavior’ I couldn’t resist comparing it with ‘Prodigal Summer’. Both of them have some common themes – preservation of wild life, life of a farm wife, in-law trouble, small town issues. ‘Flight Behavior’ had a traditional, straightforward story with a beginning, a middle and an end with one main heroine unlike ‘Prodigal Summer’. However, I felt that Kingsolver’s prose in ‘Prodigal Summer’ was more beautiful. There were many beautiful lines and passages in ‘Flight Behavior’ but the focus was more on the story rather than on the beautiful sentences. However, for some reason, inspite of the focus on the story, the pages moved very slowly and it took me quite a while to finish the book. Also, in ‘Prodigal Summer’ the coyote and the luna moth were more like characters in the story, while in ‘Flight Behavior’ I didn’t feel the same way about the monarch butterfly. Maybe because there were millions of them out there in the valley, I didn’t really fall in love with them, though I liked their story.

 

I found ‘Flight Behavior’ quite interesting. It was a slow-read for me, but I liked the stories and the characters and the family scenes and the themes that the book addressed. It has been shortlisted for the Orange prize this year and it will be interesting to track its progress there.

 

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

 

The way he closed his fingers in a bracelet around her ankles and wrists marveling at her smallness, gave her the dimensions of an expensive jewel rather than an inconsequential adult.

 

People automatically estimate a mom’s IQ at around her children’s ages, maybe dividing by the number of kids, rounding up to the nearest pajama size.

 

Having children was not like people said. Forget training them in your footsteps; the minute they put down the teething ring and found the Internet, you were useless as a source of anything but shoes and a winter coat.

 

Dovey : “Will you explain to me why people encourage delusional behavior in children, and medicate it in adults? That’s so random. It’s like this whole shady setup.”

Dellarobia : “True. At what age do you cross over the line and say, ‘Now I’ll face reality?’”

Dovey : “When you get there, send me a postcard.”

 

Dellarobia : “I don’t know how a person could even get through the day, knowing what you know.”

Ovid : “So. What gets Dellarobia through her day?”

Dellarobia : “Meeting the bus on time. Getting the kids to eat supper, getting teeth brushed. No cavities the next time. Little hopes, you know? There’s just not room at our house for the end of the world. Sorry to be a doubting Thomas.”

Ovid : “Well, you’re hardly the first. People always want the full predicament revealed and proven in sixty seconds or less.”

 

“Now, see, that’s why everybody wants Internet friends. You can find people just exactly like you. Screw your neighbors and your family, too messy. The trouble is, once you filter out everybody that doesn’t agree with you, all that’s left is maybe this one retired surfer guy living in Idaho.”

 

It was hard to feel the remotest sympathy for any of the different fools she had been. As opposed to the fool she was probably being now. People hang on for dear life to that one, she thought : the fool they are right now.

 

Have you read Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Flight Behavior’? What do you think about it?

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I have read one Kurt Vonnegut book before – it is a collection of essays called ‘A Man Without a Country’. I have wanted to read one of his novels since then and so when the book club I am a part of, decided that the book for March would be ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, I was quite excited. I picked it up a few days back and finished reading it in a day, which rarely happens with me. Here is what I think.

 Slaughterhouse Five By Kurt Vonnegut

‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ starts with an unnamed narrator, who looks suspiciously like the author, saying that he wants to write a book about the Dresden firebombing during the Second World War. Then this narrator starts describing what is there in this book. This book is about Billy Pilgrim who goes to Europe during the Second World War as the assistant of the chaplain of the army. But before he could do anything his whole army unit is killed and he doesn’t even have proper army clothes and shoes. He and three other soldiers get together and try to walk away from the enemy territory and try to stay out of trouble. While we are told this story, we are also told many other stories of Billy Pilgrim. Billy Pilgrim moves back and forth across time during the narration of this story – we learn about his mother and is girlfriend who he later marries, we learn the fact that he studies optometry and becomes a rich man later in life, we also learn that he is in a plane when it crashes and miraculously survives when everyone else dies. When he is recovering in a hospital once, he discovers his neighbour reading a science fiction book. This book is written by a writer called Kilgore Trout and Billy Pilgrim get addicted to it. It looks like Trout hasn’t sold many books, but Billy Pilgrim’s hospital neighbour is a big fan of him and soon Billy becomes a big fan of him too. Interestingly, after this Billy also gets kidnapped by aliens who take him to their planet and put him inside a transparent enclosure like in a zoo and alien spectators come to watch him. Billy learns a lot of things from the aliens, like the fourth dimension is very important, a person never dies but is always alive and the death of the person is just an event in spacetime and a person keeps moving back and forth across time forever, wars and violence keep happening and are outside the control of humans (or other living beings) and the only thing one can do is enjoy the beautiful moments which happen randomly. While reading the book, at some point, I wasn’t sure whether Billy Pilgrim was actually travelling across time or whether he actually met aliens or whether he was dreaming about time travel and aliens after reading Kilgore Trout’s novels. This point is never explicitly clarified. The Dresden bombing is also not explicitly described in the book and the story skirts around it describing Billy Pilgrim’s life before and after the bombing. The book continues in this vein showing us Billy’s life at different points of time when he is travelling back and forth across time. Towards the end the narrator comes back into the story and concludes the book.

 

I found ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ quite interesting. Vonnegut experiments with the structure of the novel – there is the initial frame which has a narrator talking about a book that he wants to write, which makes us think that it is really the author who has jumped into the book and then there is the story of Billy Pilgrim which is a book within a book and who we suspect is also the narrator with a different name (and hence it is also the author). Billy Pilgrim’s time travel is quite interesting and Vonnegut uses this device to explore science (spacetime, fourth dimension, time travel, different views of reality) and also to comment on life, war and the human condition. One of the statistics which is given in the book is that more people died during the Dresden firebombing when compared to the bombing in Hiroshima. The book also says that the Dresden firebombing is not mentioned in any of the American history books of that time. (Is that why some people are still calling for the ban of ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’?) The narrator says at the beginning of the book that the book he is writing is an anti-war book. Though the book has anti-war sentiments, the book also says through the voice of one of the aliens that war is unavoidable and the best thing that one can do is enjoy the beautiful moments in one’s life. Two of my favourite minor characters in the story were a German doctor couple who meet Billy Pilgrim when he is sitting in a cart waiting for his army mates to come back. The horse is not doing well as Billy and his friends have treated the horse like a car and have flogged it. The doctor couple chide him for treating a horse like that and try to help the horse. There is also a blind German innkeeper who takes in American soldiers after the bombing and offers them hospitality. The way the book describes humans as warm and caring, irrespective of which side of the line they are in, in a war, is quite beautiful. Vonnegut’s trademark humour is on display throughout the book and the book is a fast-paced read. I really enjoyed reading it.

 

One of my book club mates borrowed my copy of the book and so there are no quotes today.

 

If you like humorous war novels where the story is told from a unique perspective with science fiction and time travel thrown in, you will love ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’.

 

Have you read ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’? What do you think about it?

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