Thursday, April 24, 2014

10 Most Brilliant Lines From "Slaughterhouse Five"

Kurt Vonnegut has a wonderfully sparse and minimalist style. With a handful of words, he can conjure up imagery most authors require hundreds to create. He also has a dry and macabre sense of humor, based on saying the most horrifying or incredible things with simple words. Here are some of my favorite lines from his signature novel, Slaughterhouse Five.

10. When we saw a river, we had to stop so they could stand by it and think about it for a while.

9. Mary admired the two little girls I'd brought, mixed them in with her own children, sent them all upstairs to play games and watch television.

8. That table top was screaming with reflected light from a two-hundred-watt bulb overhead.

7. Billy turned on the Magic Fingers, and he was jiggled as he wept.

6. Through the valley flowed a Mississippi of humiliated Americans.

5. The hallway was zebra-striped with darkness and moonlight.

4. She upset Billy simply by being his mother. She made him feel embarrassed and ungrateful and weak because she had gone to so much trouble to give him life, and to keep that life going, and Billy didn't really like life at all.

3. The girls screamed. They covered themselves with their hands and turned their backs and so on, and made themselves utterly beautiful.

2. She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies. Men looked at her and wanted to fill her up with babies right away.

And my favorite line requires a little explanation. As a reporter, the author is sent to tell a woman her husband was just crushed to death by an elevator. The whole exchange between them is: 

1. She said about what you would expect her to say.

Have you read the novel? What other lines stuck in your head?

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