by Kurt Vonnegut
Billy Pilgrim, fatalistic ex-soldier injured in a plane accident, psychologically scarred in the Dresden bombing, gets “unstuck in time” and flickers back and forth through all points of his own past, present and future – which include a stay on the planet Tralfamadore. Or, he may be a nut; he lived through the firebombing of Dresden, and it scarred him.
Based loosely on Vonnegut’s own experiences, this is a remarkable book, both for its detached wisdom in discussing the Dresden massacre, and for its fantastic, careening imagination. Though I wonder how useful Vonnegut’s meta- textual self-commentary is – a typical moment is when he stops his narrative to explain the epigraph of his book – Vonnegut is clearly a philosopher and a great writer with an eye for catchy phrases and scenes (“fizzing with rabies;” “among the things he could not change were the past, the present and the future;” “so it goes”). A wonderful testament to the absurdity of human existence. So it goes.