One of the very best anti-war novels ever written
Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During the Second World War he served in Europe and, as a prisoner of war in Germany, witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired his classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five. He is the author of thirteen other novels, three collections of stories and five non-fiction books. Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007.
Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and since then he has written many novels, among them- The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House; a collection of short stories (1968), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988) and Hocus Pocus (1990). During the Second World War he was held prisoner in Germany and was present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience which provided the setting for his most famous work to date, Slaughterhouse Five (1969). He has also published a volume of autobiography entitled Palm Sunday (1981) and a collection of essays and speeches, Fates Worse Than Death (1991).
"Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time." So begins Vonnegut's absurdist 1969 classic. Hawke rises to the occasion of performing this sliced-and-diced narrative, which is part sci-fi and partially based on Vonnegut's experience as a American prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany during the firebombing of 1945 that killed thousands of civilians. Billy travels in time and space, stopping here and there throughout his life, including his long visit to the planet Tralfamador, where he is mated with a porn star. Hawke adopts a confidential, whisper-like tone for his reading. Listening to him is like listening to someone tell you a story in the back of a bus-the perfect pitch for this book. After the novel ends, Vonnegut himself speaks for a short while about his survival of the Dresden firestorm and describes and names the man who inspired this story. Tacked on to the very end of this audio smorgasbord is music, a dance single that uses a vintage recording of Vonnegut reading from the book. Though Hawke's reading is excellent, one cannot help but wish Vonnegut himself had read the entire text. (Nov. 2003) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Drawing on Vonnegut's own experience as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany, Slaughterhouse-Five is an absurdist time-travel story in which mild-mannered Billy Pilgrim is jerked back and forth between past and future. As a soldier during World War II, he is taken prisoner by the Germans and sent to Dresden, where he witnesses the Allied firebombing that killed more people than the atom bomb that was later dropped on Hiroshima. In the future, Billy is put on display as an alien specimen in a remote planet's zoo. Despite its absurdities, the novel is anchored in the grim reality of the pointless destruction of Dresden. Slaughterhouse is a powerful and popular work that is sure to attract many listeners; it is therefore a shame that actor Ethan Hawke's narration is not stronger. His reading is tolerable, but much of it is in a conspiratorial whisper that sounds as if Hawke were reading a bedtime story to children. Still, recommended.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Marvellous...the writing is pungent, the antics uproarious, the
humour suitably black, the wit sharp as a hypodermic" * Daily
"Mr Vonnegut knows a great deal about what is probably the largest massacre in modern history - the fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945. Slaughterhouse Five is a reaction to the event by one of our most gifted and incisive novelists. A work of keen literary artistry" -- Joseph Heller, author of 'Catch-22'
"The individuality of Vonnegut's style is a curious yet perfect match for the pain of the emotional content. A humane, human book that always remains a work of art rather than biography, no matter how apparent the author's presence" -- Kate Atkinson
"Unique...one of the writers who map our landscapes for us, who give names to the places we know best" -- Doris Lessing
"There are writers who create a lot of readers, and there are writers who create a lot of writers, and Vonnegut was both" -- Jonathan Safran Foer