It’s pretty ridiculous, but my first exposure to Vonnegut was when he appeared on the Daily Show. Jon Stewart praised the author as one of his heroes, so when ‘Stache offered a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five, I added the book to my queue.
Why is it a classic? Of course war is absurd; not many are going to argue about that point. But what’s the solution? The wiser, omniscient Tralfamadorians have endured wars, and will again in the future. It cannot be averted. So do we continue along this absurd path? I’m no war hawk, but I recognize that fighting has been necessary, and although I pray otherwise, it will be necessary again. It’s easy to then fall into the existentialist attitude of “So it goes.”
In my head, I’m arguing in circles; that must be why it’s a classic. It certainly isn’t because it’s a pleasure to read. The protagonist isn’t likeable, the science-fiction aspect isn’t very imaginitive, and the book doesn’t provide any suggestions for dealing with the absurdity of war other than “So it goes.” I guess as a starting point for discussion and argument, it’s a classic.