Banned Book: Slaughterhouse-Five

In celebration of Banned Books Week, Politics & Prose Bookstore tips its cap to the books that offended, outraged, and generally poisoned the minds of the masses with wanton creative expression. Though our selections make great kindling, we assure you they’re much more enjoyable when read. Join us all week on the slide into moral turpitude with the best censored reading material the canon has to offer.

Kurt Vonnegut’s World War II classic was variously challenged, banned and burned across the United States from 1972 onward, and most recently in 2007. The book was banned in Levittown, New York in 1975, North Jackson, Ohio, in 1979, and Lakeland, Florida, in 1982 for its “explicit sexual scenes, violence, and obscene language.” Slaughterhouse-Five was challenged as recently as 2007 in a school district in Howell, Michigan because the book contained “strong sexual content.” Upon reviewing the book, the county prosecutor concluded, “After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors.” A conclusion we can only suspect must have horrified Mr. Vonnegut.

Some sentences worthy of censorship:

As part of the gun crew, he had helped to fire one shot in anger — from a 57-millimeter antitank gun. The gun made a ripping sound like the opening of the zipper on the fly of God Almighty. The gun lapped up snow and vegetation with a blowtorch thirty feet long. The flame left a black arrow on the ground, showing the Germans exactly where the gun was hidden. The shot was a miss.