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Publisher's Summary

Slaughterhouse-Five is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW who has, in the later stage of his life, become "unstuck in time" and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously.

Traumatized by the bombing of Dresden at the time he had been imprisoned, Pilgrim drifts through all events and history, sometimes deeply implicated, sometimes a witness. He is surrounded by Vonnegut's usual large cast of continuing characters (notably here the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the alien Tralfamadorians, who oversee his life and remind him constantly that there is no causation, no order, no motive to existence). The "unstuck" nature of Pilgrim's experience may constitute an early novelistic use of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder; then again, Pilgrim's aliens may be as "real" as Dresden is real to him.

Struggling to find some purpose, order, or meaning to his existence and humanity's, Pilgrim meets the beauteous and mysterious Montana Wildhack (certainly the author's best character name), has a child with her, and drifts on some supernal plane, finally, in which Kilgore Trout, the Tralfamadorians, Montana Wildhack, and the ruins of Dresden do not merge but rather disperse through all planes of existence.

Slaughterhouse-Five was hugely successful, brought Vonnegut an enormous audience, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a best seller, and remains four decades later as timeless and shattering a war fiction as Catch-22, with which it stands as the two signal novels of their riotous and furious decade.

©1969 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"James Franco is an inspired choice as narrator for this anti-war classic. While still young, he still manages to sound world-weary.... Franco has fun with the offbeat characters and Vonnegut's quirky text but keeps the overall tone thoughtful.... Franco's reading gives the 1960s classic a freshness that will appeal to both new listeners and Vonnegut's many fans." ( AudioFile)

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What listeners say about Slaughterhouse-Five

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Weird But Enjoyable. Bad Narration

This book - following a Time-Traveling American soldier from his time as a German POW, witnessing the Fire-bombing of Dresden, surviving a Plane Crash post-war, and being kidnapped by Aliens - jumps into and out of timelines. Somehow, it's still pretty easy to follow and is an engrossing tale.
Vonnegut is a brilliant author with truly crazy characters. The plot is bizzarre and tbh, reminded me of 'Donnie Darko'. The prose is excellent, with a nice mixture of vivid mental images and brutally realistic dialogue.

James Franco is an indifferent narrator at best. He slowly plods his way through the text with a strikingly monotone delivery. I had to speed the Recording up to 1.25x.

I give this recording 7 out of 10 stars

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great book bad narrator

I love this book, it is very well written, but James Franco falls flat as a narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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More like James BLANKo

I really enjoyed the story but James is such a monotone speaker that it took away from my enjoyment of the book.

2 people found this helpful

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is there any way to get my time back?

slowest book ever. drab narrating. I wish I hadn't given it as much of a chance as I had.

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loved the story, not the performance

James Franco's German pronunciation is terrible and he sounds bored the whole time. Loved the story though!

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Franco’s Fine, But Not Dynamic

The story is a classic must. But Franco’s particular stone tone and range makes it a bit of a drone. Though I would be lying if I didn’t think it fit the story.

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sad but captivating

Franco narrates this well. it's my first exposure to Vonnegut, but it wont be my last. very interesting themes about death and time

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Franco is Fantastic

Great narration by Franco. He captures the dark satire of the novel well. Highly recommend

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Pretentious garbage

Vonnegut thinks he's clever but really the book is just pretentious garbage. So it goes.

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A terrifically performed and written take on war

A quick read/listen, artfully performed by James Franco. Sombre, sometimes humorous, and imaginative war narrative that doesn't actually describe the war itself much. Not a feel good story for good reasons.

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  • Rhiannon
  • 2018-04-20

Please God, no more James Franco.

Normally, no matter good or bad a book may be, I HAVE to finish it. I have to know how it ends. This book is the exception. It's not so much to do with the Author, but the Narrator. James Franco's narration of the book makes this story virtually unbearable. Honestly, I couldn't even get past the first hour. I'll have to see if there's another narrator for the book.

63 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-05-20

Never let James Franco narrate

I knew little about this book other than it was apparently a must read. The story itself is unique if not confusing until you get the hang of it. Not as satisfying a tale as I would have liked but the flow and form of the story was enjoyable.

James Franco though... you'd think you'd get a decent voice performance out of a film actor. It was like having a high school junior drama student read it to me: apathetic tone, crappy fake accents, limited emotional range. There was barely an audible difference between characters and he sounded SO BORED the whole time. All in all, a real turd of a reading.

I'd recommend the book, just do yourself a favor and find a different narrator.

53 people found this helpful

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  • james
  • 2018-12-11

3.45 stars......mediocre

James Franco narrates Vonnegut’s classic, a tale that takes the listener inside the time traveling mind of Billy Pilgrim, a war vet suffering from PTSD. Franco isn’t a terrible narrator, but he should stick to acting. A good narrator makes all the difference. Vonnegut is a beloved author, and this post-war classic is considered great by many. Unfortunately, I’m in the minority....and so it goes.

Overall rating: 3.45 stars

49 people found this helpful

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  • Screech
  • 2016-11-16

Good story, poor audio & reading

Classic 1960's writing. Terrible 2010 voice. Male vocal fry. Also, levels should have been normalized. Too much gain adjustment required. Kept having to back up position and increase volume to hear what I'd missed. Then, few minutes later, pull out the earbuds to keep from being blasted out.

50 people found this helpful

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  • Walter W. Quinn
  • 2018-07-05

Horrible narration.

One of my all-time favorites novels ruined by a narrator who just sounds bored. Real shame.

73 people found this helpful

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  • illnist
  • 2017-03-03

Don't bother

I loved this book until James Franco butchered it. I suggest having a listen to the preview first. Wish I did.

58 people found this helpful

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  • alan
  • 2018-07-02

Franco ruins this.

Franco's reading made me stop listening in under 10 minutes. Poor performance by him, I will buy the actual text instead.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Shane Fuder
  • 2017-03-11

Not well read

James Franco did a terrible job. Practically monotone. Audible could've gotten anybody to better than this.

55 people found this helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 2017-01-22

Everything is nothing, with a twist.

I've read Slaughterhouse-Five several times and I'm still not sure I know exactly how Vonnegut pulls it off. It is primarily a postmodern, anti-war novel. It is an absurd look at war, memory, time, and humanity, but it is also gentle. Its prose emotionally feels (go ahead, pet the emotion) like the tug of the tides, the heaviness of sleep, the seduction of alcohol, the dizziness of love. His prose is simple, but beautiful.

Obviously, part of the brilliance of this novel is born from the reality that Vonnegut is largely playing the notes of his own song (obviously, obscured by an unreliable narrator, time that is unstuck, and generous kidnapping aliens). It is the song of someone who has seen horrible, horrible things but still wants to dance and smile (so a Totentanz?).

Emperor, your sword won't help you out
Sceptre and crown are worthless here
I've taken you by the hand
For you must come to my dance

I had to work very much and very hard
The sweat was running down my skin
I'd like to escape death nonetheless
But here I won't have any luck

It is essentially art pulled out of the tension between despair and hope, grief and celebration, love and death. It is a classic not because it has a message about war, but because it has a message about life. Vonnegut aimed at war and hit everything.

98 people found this helpful

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  • Keith
  • 2015-11-20

Don't Quit Your Daytime Job, James

Vonnegut is one of a kind, and if you like that kind, Slaughterhouse Five is not to be missed. However, the same cannot be said about this audiobook. I usually like James Franco as an actor, but I was greatly disappointed with his narration of this book. There was nothing at all remarkable about his voice. He mumbled some of the time, and he sounded bored and listless all of the time. He seemed to be phoning it in.

98 people found this helpful