"Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time."
A particular friend of mine is always game to discuss books with me. We were recently saying to each other that it is easier to understand how people think and where they are coming from when you've consumed the media they consider influential in their lives. What I mean is this: if you haven't read the books that have helped to shape my thinking and my views and/or that I have found to have lasting impact, then it will be more difficult for you to understand my processes than if you had read them. One of the books on her list is Slaughterhouse-Five. I'd been meaning to read it for some time and she often recommended it to me, so I finally ordered it.
Slaughterhouse-Five is a strange little book. It is darkly funny and very poignant. It forces the reader to think about war and its effects from a new angle and doesn't mind being bizarre. I am not sure yet if it will make my List of Influential Books, but I intend to read it again.
The story centers around Billy Pilgrim, a prisoner of war in Dresden at the time of the fire-bombing near the end of WWII (Wikipedia). Billy experiences his captivity differently from every other prisoner, as he is constantly finding himself at different points in time. He "is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren't necessarily fun." We follow Billy from Dresden to the States to the planet Tralfamadore to an airplane crash to his old age to his boyhood and everywhere in between. The jumps in setting make the story all the more effective, and the alternate title -- The Children's Crusade -- all the more meaningful. This is an important book.