Sunday, May 18, 2008

Slaughterhouse Five

I'm reading Slaughterhouse Five. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, is unstuck in time. (Very Lost, very Desmond. Love.) Just before the flying saucer was to come, Billy was a little unstuck and he watched a movie about bombers in the Second World War. This tells how the movie went for Billy, and you can't tell me this isn't brilliant. Or you can, but then I'll know you're a jerk.

American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for the wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed.

I love everything about this book. One thing I especially love is that it isn't Catch-22. Bleh. Every one of his books I've read so far has been perfect. If I were an author, I would want to be Kurt Vonnegut. So it goes.

(Do I match "has" with "one" or do I match "have" with "books" in the last paragraph? I did it the way I thought was right, but I'm only 87% certain. Thanks.)

3 comments:

Jillian said...

You're right.

I'm with you as far as LOVING Kurt Vonnegut. Such a good writer. I slip his short stories into my class as often as I can, and my students eat it up!

brent said...

You did a great job making the subject and verb agree in your last paragraph. Books is the object of the prepositional phrase, which, in this case, is describing the subject, one.

So, "Every one (modifying prepositional phrase) has...," and you're done.

I'll have to find out what the rage about this Kurt Vonnegut is all about.

Shannon said...

I won't tell you if you were wrong or right because you are smarter than me so I wouldn't know.
Cool book. I like how Hitler became a baby, that was my favorite part.