So that’s why they get those tattoos: Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

I am currently, blissfully, and with full recognition that I’m about a thousand years late to the party, reading Slaughterhouse Five. Now, as we all know it’s illegal to review books before finishing them. Even to give away tiny hints about how you feel about them. People have been imprisoned awaiting deportation for less, particularly in this country. But to hell with all of that.

I love this novel.

Let me tell you my favourite thing about this novel. It is the slimmest, tiniest paperback I have available on my bookshelf. I have never felt so engrossed in something that weighs less than a pencil. I’ve been carrying it around with me at work, on the weekend, down to the shops – you never know when you might have an idle moment in the cereal aisle.

Secondly, I love it for its nihilism, its absurdity. War is terrible, people die, they live, they move on or they don’t. There’s people fighting each other, both dying, starving, in their own time. So it goes. I understand why people get those tattoos now. It is the shrug of a teenager just grown out of angst and emerging blinking into resigned, slightly hysterical, horrific reality. It is the detached calm after a long bout of sobbing.

Thirdly, I hate it because I only just picked it up. I am a reader, I should read books that every first year lit student has read, written an essay on and tattooed themselves with, right? Perhaps it’s just too distinctly American to have registered on my consciousness? Have I unnecessarily, even prejudicially, spurned American classics? Yea gods, maybe I need to try Catcher in the Rye again? I have no idea why but I feel slightly ashamed. I has made me consider what other novels I should have read. What other popular culture event rages with me wondering where that music is coming from? Am I alone? Have you come to a book, well after everyone else has moved on, and realised you should have read it a really long time ago?

About Rachel Watts

I am a writer from Perth, Western Australia. My speculative fiction novella Survival will be released in early 2018. View all posts by Rachel Watts

2 responses to “So that’s why they get those tattoos: Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

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