"Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
"Overhead he heard the cry of what might have been a melodious owl, but it wasn't a melodious owl. It was a flying saucer from Tralmafadore, navigating in both space and time, therefore seeming to Billy Pilgrim to have come from nowhere all at once. Somewhere a big dog barked."
Slaughterhouse-Five was first published in 1969. It was the perfect book for a dissatisfied generation, eager to voice their concerns over war and civil rights, eager to embrace peace and love as an ideal, and eager to read books like Slaughterhouse-Five. It remains Vonnegut's most popular book.
It bears strong resemblances to another famous WWII novel, Catch-22. One could also draw parallels between this novel and The Tin Drum, and also to Gravity's Rainbow. All four books use WWII as a backdrop for discussions of blind patriotism, the horrors of war, and our mutual fear of death. All four are also humorous books that defy easy interpretation.
For the record, my favorite of the four books above is The Tin Drum, though Slaughterhouse-Five comes a close second. Catch-22 was just too jokey for me, and I could barely get through Gravity's Rainbow.
Slaughterhouse-Five follows the exploits of Billy Pilgrim, a WWII veteran who is sent hurtling back and forth through time. This time travel is completely involuntary, and offers Billy some startling insights into both past and future events. Along the way he is taken prisoner by the Germans during the last days of WWII, and is also abducted by aliens from the planet Tralmafadore.
So it goes.