Last week I reviewed a non-fiction war novel about the Vietnam war. This week I’m writing review about a meta-fiction war novel about World War II. That’s about where the similarities begin and end.
Spoiler Free Summary & Review:
Billy Pilgrim is a WWII vet who has, as he describes, has become unstuck in time. This is both an allegory for his state mind and the device for which Vonnegut tells his story which is somewhat based on Vonnegut’s own experience in the war including being in Dresden during the fire bombing. The story jumps around between episodes occurring during his time in the war, a time while he was working as an optometrist, and later life when he’s living with his daughter. His getting “unstuck in time” was a side effect of being abducted by aliens. As Tim O’brien says, “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical…In other cases you can’t even tell a true war story. Sometimes it’s just beyond telling.”(1) and I believe when he wrote that maybe he had Slaughterhouse Five in mind.
- The Thing’s They Carried, 70