I think a great book’s back story is just as interesting as the finished product. Here are a few things I found out about Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse-Five:
Did you love it or hate it? Here’s an excerpt from the 1969 New York Times review of Slaughterhouse-Five:
It sounds crazy. It sounds like a fantastic last-ditch effort to make sense of a lunatic universe. But there is so much more to this book. It is very tough and very funny; it is sad and delightful; and it works. But is also very Vonnegut, which mean you’ll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner.
Nick Greene of Mental Floss wrote a great post about Slaughterhouse-Five entitled “15 Things You May Not Know about Slaughterhouse-Five” and here are a couple interesting facts:
- After it was published in 1969, Slaughterhouse-Five spent 16 weeks on the best-seller list.
- The Tralfamadorian phrase, “So it goes” appears 106 times in the book.
Check out what Vonnegut’s daughter, Nanette says about what it was like to have Kurt Vonnegut as a father in this Huffington Post article entitled, “The Elephant in the Room”.
In one section, she describes returning to Dresden with her own son:
Forty years later, I went on a pilgrimage to Dresden with my 20-year-old son, Max, who was a German Studies major and who spoke German. The fact that Max was close to my father’s age when he was a P.O.W. and that he resembled his grandfather in so many ways, made the pilgrimage feel surreal and as close to a religious experience as any I’ve ever had. Walking in that city made me ache for my young father, as any mother would have.
Bernard V. O’Hare was Vonnegut’s friend during WW2. They both received Purple Hearts for their service. He died in 1990 at age 67. In 2007, O’Hare’s son, Bernard V. O’Hare II, published a letter Vonnegut wrote in 1945 to family and friends, describing his experience in Dresden. This three-page letter has been described as Vonnegut’s first draft of Slaughterhouse-Five. Here’s an excerpt:
On about February 14th the Americans came over, followed by the R.A.F. their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden — possibly the world’s most beautiful city. But not me.
Vonnegut closes the letter with:
I’ve too damned much to say, the rest will have to wait. I can’t receive mail here so don’t write.
You can read the whole letter on O’Hare’s blog, Vonneblog.
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