Friday, December 7, 2012

5 Books Update: Slaughterhouse-Five

Its weird how different set books are overseas compared to the ones that we have here.  Two books on my list, The Bell Jar and Slaughterhouse-Five, seem to be common set books in schools whereas here, they are not.  I didn't encounter either of them in school or in university despite the fact that I did a course on American Literature.  So instead I find myself reading them now, in my late twenties, wondering what my younger self would've thought.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Slaughterhouse-Five.  Like Brave New World (and plenty of other books I read), I chose it partly based on a quote:

"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."

I knew the story had something to do with World War II but always wondered how a quote like that fit in exactly.  For those who don't know, Slaughterhouse-Five is a little autobiographical - Kurt Vonnegut was in Dresden before and after the bombing and he did survive by hiding in an old meat locker.  As he says himself:

"All this happened, more or less."

The phrase "So it goes" appears so many time in the book that I lost count.  Vonnegut uses it everytime there is a death which is a comment on it's inevitability.  For me it was so much more than the inevitability of death.  As much as I like to believe that everything happens for a reason, sometimes things just happen because it's life and that's the way it goes.  So it goes...

Another quote I loved?

"And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much of it was mine to keep."

Which, as I write this, makes me realise how time and the nature of time seems to be a big theme in the books that I have been reading just recently.  The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse-Five and 1Q84 all touch on time and its passage and, in some case, how we can never reclaim it.

If my thoughts seem scattered, feel free to take them with a pinch of salt.  As with every book on my list so far, I already want to reread Slaughterhouse-Five just to see what I missed and what else I can get out of it.

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