Kurt Vonnegut experienced the WW2 fire-bombing of Dresden as a private in the US army.
He says of the experience: "There is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre" - and this is effectively communicated in the deliberate anti-climax to Slaughterhouse 5.
I seem to find myself pretty ambivalent towards Vonnegut. I like his pacifist leanings, and I find his use of an anti-hero and anticlimax as well as his ideas on time interesting.
Vonnegut manages to convey the disorienting effect of horror pretty effectively with his impressionist style. Bernard Schlink and others examine in an intellectual fashion how the horrors of WWII slipped by everyone so effortlessly at the time, but Vonnegut makes the numbing effect of the horror easier for the reader to understand on a gut-level, by portraying how powerless the 'little people' must have felt when it came down to the nitty-gritty.
Interesting to note is the bleak fatalistic leitmotif "So it goes" whenever something or someone in the novel dies. (You hear the refrain quite often, and it creates a chilling tally of how often death rears its head.
The bleakness of Vonnegut's subject matter is offset by his offbeat black humor. An example of the playful quality of Vonnegut's sense of humor is demonstrated when he even adds the "So it goes" leitmotif to a bottle of Coca-cola going 'dead'. ( or flat)
But... his method of employing an anticlimax also made me feel a bit deflated with regard to the ending of Slaughterhouse 5, which, in a sense, is, I suppose part of what he tries to achieve, especially given the bit of background regarding the feelings of his friend's wife that Vonnegut gives in the informal prologue to Slaughterhouse 5.
In the end, I feel a bit confused as to if I should read more work by him, wondering if he will have more to say - not quite sure how to express this... on the other hand, the fact that he is more subtle in what he has to say, also makes him pretty appealing, since I don't particularly value authors who are in your face and whose work reads too 'easily', or who don't say anything that leaves you with something to chew on.
I do enjoy Vonnegut's dark humor; it's almost worthwhile reading him just for that alone. So.. like I said, - I feel pretty ambivalent.