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Slaughterhouse-Five

Narrated by: James Franco
Length: 5 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: Fiction, Humour
4.5 out of 5 stars (398 ratings)

Non-member price: $29.22

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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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent detail and black humour

I thought James Franco's voice and readiig style suited this book perfectly. An interesting and engaging alternative treatment to the topic of war , especially those who survive it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Great original theme and style

loved it especially the alternate title The Children's Crusade and the dedication to Mary O'Hare.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good to fall asleep to

James Franco tends to talk in a lazy monotone, which may present a challenge if you are planning to stay awake during this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great American classic

Delighted to "read" this classic again. Franco did a good job but must learn to pronounce the word "cavalry" correctly. It was a Calvary hearing his mispronunciation- twice.

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A classic.

This is a giant story of 20th Century literature. Franco read it very well. I listened in one sitting, and was wrapped the entire time.

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Odd but good

I didn’t know anything about this book besides it being a classic and about war. It might be best to go into it with only this level of knowledge because any plot explanation could put you off. It’s quirky, odd, dry in humour, non-linear in timeline and a slow burn. Let go of trying to make sense of it and you’ll end up loving it.

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So It Goes

This book is hard to categorise but importantly it is anti-war among a lot of other things - So It Goes.

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A kaleidoscope of a story. Fractured yet brilliant! Compelling and frank.

There is so much you could say about this story. One of those high school books your supposed to read but in my case, never did.

I'm glad I waited until now. It's so fractured and compelling. Only 5hrs of audio so got through it quickly. I think reading it would have been harder unless you read it in one sitting.

The frankness in Kurt Vonnegut's writing about WWII POW's before and up to the bombing of Dresden, Germany through the eyes of one or many people from moment to moment was so brutal, genuine and heartbreaking. Particularly, the portrayal and stark differences of humanity. Whether you were a US, British or Russian POW, Nazi or civilian in Germany during that time.

Most of the story though was seen mainly through the eyes of one US would be optometrist, Bill Pilgrim. He stretches constantly through space and time, quite literally but most often back to WWII as a US POW before, after and the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden. One thinks often that his behaviour is likened to PSTD, which at the time of WWII was seen as cowardice and odd. Such a fractured human being but brilliant mind.

I recommend this book definitely. There's so much in it!

James Franco was great as the narrator with his approach but was lacking also. The story nonetheless was brilliant on its own. Amazing, sad, atrocious, frank and brilliant! Totally an unexpected read. Blew my mind in so many directions!

Thank you to all for their contributions. Especially, making classic reads available on audio!

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Vonnegut read by Franco. Brilliant!

Great and funny at times. James Franco's voice suits the story so well! 5 stars!

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Perfect

James Franco - the perfect narrator for Slaughterhouse 5, a novel about war and death. So it goes.

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  • Walter W. Quinn
  • 05-07-2018

Horrible narration.

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

43 of 47 people found this review helpful

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  • k teed
  • 11-12-2018

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

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Shane Fuder
  • 11-03-2017

Not well read

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

36 of 40 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 22-01-2017

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.

85 of 96 people found this review helpful

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  • illnist
  • 03-03-2017

Don't bother

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

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Cus
  • 16-11-2016

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.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Keith
  • 20-11-2015

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.

83 of 95 people found this review helpful

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  • JL
  • 01-12-2015

Good book, meh narrator

Although I liked the book, I wasn't a fan of James Franco's reading of it. His mumbling and flat affect made the book made the book feel a bit tedious.

69 of 80 people found this review helpful

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  • alan
  • 02-07-2018

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.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Expat back home
  • 21-11-2015

Read it again.

Would you listen to Slaughterhouse-Five again? Why?

I read this book perhaps 30 years ago. I'm delighted to be reintroduced. A great author and great story. Even if depressing.

What did you like best about this story?

The dry wit.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh and cry.

Any additional comments?

This book is read very well. The actor gets the subtlety of the book.
If you read this book in high school, read it again and you'll appreciate it even more.

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 05-06-2017

Did I Enjoy it or Experience it?

"Unputdownable", "unmissable", "unreadable" we've seen them all in amongst the many reviews that populate sites like Audible and Amazon. Well how about "unreviewable"? That's pretty much how I'm finding Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five".

Audible have it in the Fiction-Humour section. There is some really black humour in there but particularly in this form with James Franco's laconic drawl it really isn't going to have you searching for the LOL icon. It's often described as sc-fi but although yes there is a race of aliens so it can reasonably have that tag attached to it I wouldn't call it that either. It's also a book about war and here is where, if anywhere, I would settle. After all it was inspired by the author's real experience of World war II and in particular the Dresden bombing. Even if I settle on that though it isn't going to satisfy anyone who wants a detailed account of the awful events that took place there.

My take on it, which is just one of many possible conclusions, is that this is a story of a confused mind left traumatised by life and particularly the sheer inhumanity of the war. It jumps around time but there are clear signposted images of how Bill Pilgrim's personal narrative came about. I don't think the aliens in Vonnegut's story are supposed to be real, they are figments of Pilgrim's tortured imagination designed to reconcile him to what has happened to him. A Three Musketeers candy wrapper, some sci-fi books he adores and the similarities to those stories and so on are cleverly placed.

The result of his time displacement though is that the story is deliberately disjointed and at times the links aren't obvious or indeed even there. As a representation of a troubled mind I think it's excellent and would recommend the book on that basis. Whether that is actually enjoyable though will very much be a matter of taste. I'd say give it a go because it is very, very clever but be prepared that it might not meet your personal taste. I'm still not convinced as to whether I enjoyed it or simply experienced it. The fact that I'm struggling with it in so many ways is as good a reason to recommend it as any though if you want a reading challenge.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • jitesh
  • 16-04-2016

story wasn't slaughtered

6 hours of bizarre stories. Well worth a listen made especially pleasing by James Franco.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew Dawkins
  • 22-01-2017

A brilliant listen

A fantastic novel read in a touchingly wry way by James Franco. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • steven
  • 09-03-2016

Worth every penny

A great book strangely haunting yet amusing in places and Franco's performance is very soothing a mix of dryness and charm

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • D. Payne
  • 12-06-2018

Woefully miscast.

This is an all-time great novel, and I've enjoyed more than a few of Franco's acting performances in the past, so I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, the way Franco has chosen to read the book is frankly soporific.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Lancaster
  • 16-04-2017

As astute and relevant today as it was in 1968.

Vividly read, beautifully written. The madness of war is lampooned with pity and wild imagination.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Dean
  • 11-04-2017

must listen.

I plan to buy it to read it. I don't feel knowing it spoils it at all. it's a very unique piece of work. it's not that it just holds up. it's more now that the time is long passed and the glory of victory and shame of defeat is so set. it's a much more fair way to talk about the war. also a more fair way to talk about a life. can't recommend highly enough.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Wras
  • 03-04-2017

trapped in the amber of this moment.


A book about war and the inhumanity of being human, a timeless time perspective of all the things that keep on repeating the same mistakes with horrible regularity and yet we choose to accept as new phenomena of our very particular time, were we commit very old crimes “So It Goes”.

A sad beautiful tale that is not afraid to expose the ugliest of truth, a desperate attempt at creating a change in a world that is stuck in the amber of its own creation constant war to prove we were right once, or we can sell over there in freedom because we won the war and “So It Goes”.

A classic that is rebellious and confrontative, with anarchic, nihilistic thoughts, to liberate us from complacency and acceptance of the of the status quo, “So It Goes”.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Jack
  • 18-04-2016

loved it

I totally loved it. book is great and Franco is class as per usual. Hopefully he does more.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • M. Griffiths
  • 01-05-2017

So it goes........

The narration is so "spot on" that it justifies the audio format. Something of Catch-22 and Forrest Gump, witty and dark.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful