Saturday, 26 September 2009

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Thanks to its naked greed and breathtaking business acumen, my local yoga centre decided to respond to the credit crunch last year by doubling its prices. This proved to be the absolute definition of a blessing in disguise when, monumentally ticked off with these jokers, I quit the centre for good and began practising yoga at home — every day. The net results of this new regime was not only that I made more progress in six months than I had in the previous six years (look Ma, I'm doing the full wheel!) but I also I found myself listening to a solid, and enlightening, seven hours of internet radio a week, while practising said postures. The latest fruits of this routine have included an outstanding dramatisation of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five on BBC Radio 3. I only just caught up with it and it will only remain available for another two days (click here) but if you miss it, don't despair. A work of this quality is bound to be repeated and I will keep you posted. Admirably adapted by Dave Sheasby, the novel works surprisingly well on radio. But what struck me most of all was how beautifully written, casually profound and bitterly funny the book is ("Anti-war novel? You might as well write an anti-glacier novel"). There's a full cast of Vonnegut's regular characters in attendance, including Eliot Rosewater from God Bless You Mr Rosewater, which I think was the first Vonnegut novel I read; Howard J Campbell Jr from Mother Night, which I re-read recently, and which was another compact masterpiece (also an excellent film starring Nick Nolte); and of course the pervading presence of hack science fiction writer and fellow peddler of casual profundity, Kilgore Trout (a name which is an obvious play on Theodore Sturgeon, though unlike Trout, Sturgeon writes very well). Listening to the radio play also brought back startlingly vivid memories of seeing the movie with my mum. At the cinema in Grant Park Plaza, I believe. Mum enjoyed the movie, but she was a little upset by the cruelly pointless death of Billy Pilgrim's sweet, loving wife, Valencia. So it goes.

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