More Sketchy Thoughts on Slaughterhouse Five

A while back, I posted some thoughts on whether or not Billy Pilgrim is hallucinating when he's visited by aliens in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. I'm teaching the novel again this week, an my thoughts have turned to the issue of free will in the novel. The reason this came up is that a student…Read more More Sketchy Thoughts on Slaughterhouse Five

Is Billy Pilgrim Crazy?

A student of mine recently asked whether Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist (for lack of a better word) of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, has, within the context of the narrative (such as it is) really experienced a close encounter with aliens or simply lost his mind. The question is certainly valid. When I first read the…Read more Is Billy Pilgrim Crazy?

The Teaching Assistant

Here's another passage that didn't make the cut because it was a little too close to my own life. I also wasn't entirely enamored with the use of "you" in this one. It struck me as if the narrator were trying uncharacteristically hard to be chummy with the reader. The Teaching Assistant The only reason…Read more The Teaching Assistant

“That’s a Junkie”

Here's another passage I cut because of the reference to Charley's students and also because it had more to do with my own life than Charley's. With subsequent revisions, I got increasingly better at inventing a life for Charley and separating my life from his. In terms of story, these cuts allow the narrative to…Read more “That’s a Junkie”

He Walked the Halls

Technically, Buddy should have flunked out by the end of his first semester, but the constant stream of cash flowing from his family was enough to make everyone look the other way whenever he set fire to the chemistry lab or ran naked through the gymnasium because the other guys stole his gym shorts.

A Conversation with Charles Holdefer

Charles Holdefer is the author of four novels and has also published many short stories, articles, and reviews. His previous novel, The Contractor (2007), was praised as “stylish, fiercely funny and frightening” (Kirkus) and as “a compelling mix of thriller, psychodrama and political commentary" (Booklist, starred review). My full review of the book can be…Read more A Conversation with Charles Holdefer