In a fine essay published by The New Yorker, Salman Rushdie offers his thoughts on Slaughterhouse-Five. Comparisons to Catch-22 and War and Peace are mixed with reflections on Vonnegut’s exploration of free will and the cheerfulness at the core of Vonnegut’s work. The essay is adapted from a speech Rushdie delivered in Indianapolis marking the 50th anniversary of the novel’s publication. Read the full essay here:
An often-quoted passage from the opening chapter of Slaughterhouse-Five recounts Kurt’s exchange with the filmmaker Harrison Starr.
“You know what I say to people when I hear they’re writing anti-war books?”
“No, what do you say, Harrison Starr?”
“I say, ‘Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?'”
What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers.
Considering the recent data about climate change, we seem headed an for anti-glacier world. If only we’d figured out how to stop wars instead of glaciers…