Author Kurt Vonnegut was very fortunate to have the bulk of his writing years occur during a time in history in which he wrote Slaughter House Five. If this book were written in present day, I fear it would be about as broadly circulated as a Kilgore Trout novel. Slaughter House Five is a fictitious as well as true narrative about WWII, of which the youth of this day have only an inkling of knowledge. Vonnegut's stark portrayal of war and its tragic aftermath would have been, at the time of its publication, a cathartic novel for those veterans suffering from leftover emotional scars received after serving their country some 20 years earlier. Vonnegut was asked by an old war buddy's wife not to glamorize war (pgs. 14-15), which he successfully complied with. Throw in a chronologically challenged story line, a few aliens, and time-travel, and you've got yourself a book that becomes more about its oddities than the spoils of war. Not the course of action I would take, but Vonnegut makes it work. .
Vonnegut's writing style is very casual, and the reader feels like the story is being relayed in conversation rather than written form. The book begins with an unknown narrator explaining what we're about to read. I reread the first chapter after finishing the book, and it's somewhat clearer now that it's a jumbled autobiographic account of Vonnegut's time spent in Germany during WWII and the process he went through write this book. Normally, this would be recorded in a book's foreward, but Vonnegut doesn't appear to do anything normal. Chapter 1 states many times we're about to read a book about Dresden; however, there is one clue that something is amiss when Vonnegut speaks of "someone playing with the clocks" and "as an Earthling" he had to "believe whatever clocks said" (pg. 20). Chapter 2, the actual beginning of the story explains that Billy, the protagonist, is a time-traveling WWII veteran.