Slaughterhouse five – Review

Banned Book Review – “Slaughterhouse five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death”

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Earlier this year, I decided to participate in the Banned Books Challenge to broaden my horizons and read so many of the books that I’ve always meant to read.

I started the year with “The Things They Carried,” a collection of short stories which take place during the Vietnam War.  I decided to stay with that theme of war novels and I moved on to “Slaughterhouse Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut.

“Slaughterhouse five” follows the story of Billy Pilgrim, a chaplain’s assistant, during World War II.  Billy is captured shortly after the Battle of the Bulge and travels to Dresden while a prisoner of war.  He, like Vonnegut himself, is in Dresden during the city’s firebombing in WWII.

According to Wikipedia, “Slaughterhouse five” was banned (attempted to) due to it’s “irreverent tone and purportedly obscene content.”   As with “The Things They Carried,” and I’d imagine any book that deals with war, it is going to discuss things that leave some people uncomfortable.  Terrible things happen during wars, and people should be honest about it (and with themselves).  War is hell.

Bu4066372865251_s6u7rgBp_lt the book covers more than just the war – it talks about Billy’s life before and after war, as well as his interactions with the Tralfamadorians.  The Tralfamadorians experience time different than the traditional linear form that we do, they instead leap through time, experiencing events years apart and often at random.  A oddity, which they impart to Billy, causing him to become unstuck in time – leaping back and forth from his regular life, to the war, his time as a prisoner of war, to his time in captivity with the Tralfamadorians, and other events.

The confusion and off-kilter feeling with time skipping and Vonnegut’s style (not traditional chapters) worked well for a retelling of a war story.  I’ve never been to war, but I’d imagine that most survivors of war have moments of time when they suddenly think about a memory from their time in the war… especially when trying to reacclimate to their old lives and heal from the traumatic experience of going to war.

There is also a refrain that is repeated many times during the book and anyone who has read the book can easily tell you what it is – “so it goes.”  It is often repeated after discussing a character’s death or unfortunate event.  This is part of where the pro-banning the book people got their “irreverent tone” nonsense from.  And to their objections to the book, I’ve no doubt Vonnegut had three words for them: “so it goes.”

It was an interesting and deep story, peppered throughout with some bits that were humorous.  My favorite funny scene was when a writer was at a party of eye doctors and talks with a young woman –

“Did that really happen?” said Maggie White.  She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies.  Men looked at her and wanted to fill her up with babies right away. She hadn’t had even one yet.  She used birth control.

“Of course it happened,” Trout told her.  “If I wrote something that hadn’t really happened, and I tried to sell it, I could go to jail. That’s fraud.”

Five out of five stars for “Slaughterhouse Five,” I’d put it on the list of books that you should read at some point in your life…as it’s probably one of the best novels of our time.

And make sure you check out the banned books challenge for 2015, because books should never be banned.

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Banned Review “The Things They Carried”

Book Review:  “They Things They Carried”

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You can probably tell from my blog, but I don’t usually read the more serious books.  The type of books I usually read – romance, mysteries, thrillers – are like cotton candy for my brain.  They may not be nutritious, but I can’t stop myself from gobbling them up.

It is for this very reason that I decided to go outside the norm for my second book in the Banned Books Challenge and read “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien.  I wanted something raw and real, something to make me think, and I found it in the short stories of war within “The Things They Carried.”

I’d imagine that “The Things They Carried” was probably banned for language or descriptions of death and war.  I’d imagine that it may have offended some people – the grit, the terror, the truth in the fictionalized accounts of Tim O’Brien’s own Vietnam experiences.  But books like this should never be banned – even if you’re offended by these stories or if you’re a person who doesn’t understand why stories like these should be read.  Books should never be banned because the subject matter makes you feel uncomfortable.  Voices should never be silenced.  Books like “The Things They Carried” are more than educational for those of us who never see war…for those who have, they can be a form of therapy and a way to no longer feel alone or forgotten.

Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a life-time ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for.  Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” – “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien

If you haven’t read “The Things They Carried,” I strongly recommend it.  Five out of five stars.

And make sure you check out the banned books challenge for 2015, because books should never be banned.

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Banned Review “A light in the attic”

Banned Book Review:  “A Light in the Attic,” by Shel Silverstein a-light-in-the-attic

In honor of the many children’s books that have made ALA’s most challenged books list, I decided to start my banned books challenge with one of my favorite authors growing up – Shel Silverstein and his “A Light in the Attic.” When I was a kid, Shel Silverstein introduced me to poetry through “A light in the Attic” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”  I can remember giggling over the rhyming lines and funny sketches in books borrowed from my local library.  I would even come up with rhymes of my own, entertaining myself (and most likely annoying my older sister and parents) with my early endeavors as a writer.  :p

According to Wikipedia, the motives for banning this book range from promoting disobedience among children to describing death.  To this I say, some people need to lighten up. I give this book five out of five stars – strongly recommended for children and those of us who enjoy nostalgic reading that pulls our heart-strings with the serious poems that Silverstein weaves in with the silly.

I especially enjoyed the poem he ends this book with:

This Bridge

This bridge will only take you halfway there To those mysterious lands you long to see: Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs And moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come and walk awhile with me and share The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I’ve known. But this bridge will only take you halfway there – The last few steps you’ll have to take alone.

-Shel Silverstein

If you haven’t already, check out the banned books challenge for 2015, because books should never be banned.

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Banned Books Challenge

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This year, I’ll be participating in the Banned Books Challenge.  Why?  Because books should never be banned!

“No harm ever came from reading a book….”

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heeheehee  (side note: that has to be one of my favorite lines from The Mummy.)  Now don’t be silly, that was just a movie.  Besides, that was more about reading books out-loud, which let’s face it, is super annoying. :p

But seriously, books should never be banned.  Books have a beautiful power – to inform you, educate you, entertain you, open your mind/eyes/heart, transport you to new worlds, and show you what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes.  No one, other than you, should be allowed to tell you what you can or cannot read.  And it is for this reason, that I’ll be participating in the 2015 Banned Books Challenge.

So, what do you say, do you want to read some banned books with me?  You can sign up for the banned books challenge or check out the ALA’s site on frequently challenged books, but only if you’re brave enough. 😉