Tuesday, July 27, 2010

There'll always be what now?

I read Slaughterhouse Five years ago, and, having been an idiot, didn't get much out of it. I've just started rereading it today, which is turning out to be an excellent decision.

Unrelated to its intrinsic merits as a book, this early passage (on page 3 in the old-timey $1.25 paperback edition I have) struck me as, well...read it:
Over the years, people I've met have often asked me what I'm working on, and I've usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden.

I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, "Is it an anti-war book?"

"Yes," I said. "I guess."

"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. I believe that, too.
Though he really couldn't have known it at the time, Vonnegut's specific choice of analogy here has turned out to be dreadfully, dreadfully ironic.

War has crushed glaciers in this little competition.

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