Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse-Five (1966) "Kurt Vonnegut introduces his seventh novel, “Slaughterhouse-Five” (Delacorte), apologetically, calling it a failure. Coming from most writers, an apology like that would be inadequate; a writer can always take a vow of permanent abstinence from writing, and there is a shortage of cabdrivers. Mr. Vonnegut’s penitential gesture is objectionable because it implies that he might have succeeded in solving a problem that he properly represents as insoluble. In 1945, a German prisoner of war, he lived through the American and British bombing of Dresden, in which a hundred and thirty-five thousand people died—nearly twice as many, he notes, as were killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, whose devastation was at least officially honored by a Presidential announcement. “Slaughterhouse-Five” is Vonnegut’s tribute to the strain imposed on his conscience by the fact that he survived, and by his increasing awareness, since the war, of the scope and variety of death. The vibrant simplicity of the book to which he finally surrendered his emotion makes his apology seem disingenuous, like Alexander the Great putting himself down for not dedicating his life to untying the Gordian knot. Besides, any book that is touted as a “masterpiece,” “long-awaited,” and “twenty years in the making” can’t be all bad if it turns out to be just a neat hundred and eighty-six pages long."     ~ Susan Lardner - and Amazon Books