Monday, January 25, 2010

The Extermination of Kurt Vonnegut

Our more-literary readers will remember Kurt Vonnegut as the author of the 1970s, with blockbuster novels such as God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and Cat's Cradle. And perhaps biggest of all (it was made into a movie), Slaughterhouse-Five, based on Vonnegut's experience of the firebombing of Dresden, which he underwent as a prisoner of war of the Germans.

Ostensibly because of graphic and detailed depictions of sex and obscenity, Slaughterhouse is Number 67 on the American Library Association's list of the hundred most-banned books in American history. But in his forthcoming "Attempted Literary Analysis" of the reports of homicidal gassing in the Holocaust, The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes, Samuel Crowell adduces another occasion for banning the book: Vonnegut describes in some detail his own "extermination" (search the book for "naked Americans").

Of course, Vonnegut wasn't exterminated - like the other POWs, he was deloused, in a mysterious, frightening, humiliating and painful procedure that started with being stripped naked and herded into a large shower room, while the POWs' clothing was sent to the gas chambers, where, Vonnegut writes, "fleas and lice died by the billions."

The resemblance of the procedure, particularly as viewed by those undergoing it, to the testimony of the amazingly many who seem somehow to have survived the famous homicidal procedures of the "extermination camps" is such that, if I were defending the regnant Holocaust mythology, I would ban this book in a New York second.

You can pre-order The Gas Chamber on Amazon. It's due out in August. I predict rapid banning.

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