YOUR STORIES discovers the books that are important to you. These articles tell the stories of favourited books and their readers. If you're interested in being interviewed for a future YOUR STORIES feature, please email me at hello[at]ibelieveinstory[dot]com.
KURT VONNEGUT'S SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE
CHOSEN BY MATTHEW ARNOLD STERN
When did you first read Slaughterhouse-Five?
It was an assignment for an Advanced Placement English class I took in my senior year in Reseda High School in 1979.
Why is it your favourite?
At first, I liked it because it had the f-word in it. There was nothing cooler to a 17-year-old in the 1970s to read a book with naughty words in it -- except to read a book with naughty words in school and get graded for it! As I read the book, I appreciated how Vonnegut used science fiction to deal with a traumatic experience from his past and provide important insights. Even though the scenes in the book jump between past, present, and future, the story follows a clean linear narrative.
Do you have any memories associated with the book?
Slaughterhouse-Five was the first "grown up" book I ever read. In school, I read all the "safe" classics from Shakespeare, Keats, and Twain. Slaughterhouse-Five was my first modern book that discussed contemporary themes. My parents were teenagers during World War II, and they remembered vividly the deprivation and uncertainty of that time. Reading about the horrors of that war made me feel more connected to them and others of that generation.
Slaughterhouse-Five also made me a big Vonnegut fan. I read all of his early books, including Sirens of Titan and Mother Night (another great World War II book). When his novel Jailbird came out in 1979, it was the first hardcover book I ever bought. (As a broke college student, that was a big deal.)
Share your favourite quotation from the text.
I'm a big fan of great opening lines, so: "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time." And of course, "So it goes."
Matthew Arnold Stern is an award-winning public speaker and technical writer. He has published two novels, Offline and Doria, and a book about public speaking, Mastering Table Topics. He is currently finishing a feature length screenplay. His website is matthewarnoldstern.com and you can follow him on Twitter as @maswriter.