Reading Slaughterhouse-Five in Prison

Reading Slaughterhouse-Five in Prison

The celebration of the 50th anniversary of Slaughterhouse-Five continues with news of two recent group readings of Vonnegut’s classic novel. 

First, from the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (KVML), an interview with Chris LaFave, curator of KVML, and Debra Des Vignes, founder of the Indiana Prison Writers Workshop.

The Indiana Prison Writers Workshop Meet “Kurt Vonnegut”

Anyone looking to read Slaughterhouse-Five as a public experience should check out The Guardian’s reading group, which has chosen Vonnegut’s classic as its March selection.

The Guardian Reads Kurt Vonnegut

Lastly, a few words from Vonnegut scholar supreme Jerome Klinkowitz, from his 2009 book Kurt Vonnegut’s America (The University of South Carolina Press.)

“Slaughterhouse-Five, published in March 1969, was not only a best seller, but established its author as a celebrity spokesman for key issues of the day. This shows how the book had to wait for the right times to come along before the writer could expect acceptance. An anti-war novel would not have done so well much earlier–not until the Tet Offensive of 1968 showed Americans how badly the war in Vietnam was going. A novel about an atrocity such as the firebombing of Dresden would not have been received as open-mindedly had not the recent revelations of U.S. atrocities in the Vietnam War, such as the My Lai massacre and the indiscriminate use of napalm, alerted readers to the fact that our side was not always above such things…Not before had the country as a whole questioned its basic ideals, its sense of reality. Because Kurt Vonnegut’s new novel raised these issues, it was the perfect book for the times …”

For more, here’s Vonnegut from 2004, from a lecture at Case Western Reserve University.

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