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Second only to Slaughterhouse-Five of Vonnegut's canon in its prominence and influence, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) presents Eliot Rosewater, an itinerant, semi-crazed millionaire wandering the country in search of heritage and philanthropic outcome, introducing the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout to the world and Vonnegut to the collegiate audience which woul Second only to Slaughterhouse-Five of Vonnegut's canon in its prominence and influence, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) presents Eliot Rosewater, an itinerant, semi-crazed millionaire wandering the country in search of heritage and philanthropic outcome, introducing the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout to the world and Vonnegut to the collegiate audience which would soon make him a cult writer. Trout, modeled according to Vonnegut on the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (with whom Vonnegut had an occasional relationship) is a desperate, impoverished but visionary hack writer who functions for Eliot Rosewater as both conscience and horrid example. Rosewater, seeking to put his inheritance to some meaningful use (his father was an entrepreneur), tries to do good within the context of almost illimitable cynicism and corruption. It is in this novel that Rosewater wanders into a science fiction conference--an actual annual event in Milford, Pennsylvania--and at the motel delivers his famous monologue evoked by science fiction writers and critics for almost half a century: "None of you can write for sour apples... but you're the only people trying to come to terms with the really terrific things which are happening today." Money does not drive Mr. Rosewater (or the corrupt lawyer who tries to shape the Rosewater fortune) so much as outrage at the human condition. The novel was adapted for a 1979 Alan Menken musical. The novel is told mostly thru a collection of short stories dealing with Eliot's interactions with the citizens of Rosewater County, usually with the last sentence serving as a punch line. The antagonist's tale, Mushari's, is told in a similar short essay fashion. The stories reveal different hypocrisies of humankind in a darkly humorous fashion.


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Second only to Slaughterhouse-Five of Vonnegut's canon in its prominence and influence, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) presents Eliot Rosewater, an itinerant, semi-crazed millionaire wandering the country in search of heritage and philanthropic outcome, introducing the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout to the world and Vonnegut to the collegiate audience which woul Second only to Slaughterhouse-Five of Vonnegut's canon in its prominence and influence, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) presents Eliot Rosewater, an itinerant, semi-crazed millionaire wandering the country in search of heritage and philanthropic outcome, introducing the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout to the world and Vonnegut to the collegiate audience which would soon make him a cult writer. Trout, modeled according to Vonnegut on the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (with whom Vonnegut had an occasional relationship) is a desperate, impoverished but visionary hack writer who functions for Eliot Rosewater as both conscience and horrid example. Rosewater, seeking to put his inheritance to some meaningful use (his father was an entrepreneur), tries to do good within the context of almost illimitable cynicism and corruption. It is in this novel that Rosewater wanders into a science fiction conference--an actual annual event in Milford, Pennsylvania--and at the motel delivers his famous monologue evoked by science fiction writers and critics for almost half a century: "None of you can write for sour apples... but you're the only people trying to come to terms with the really terrific things which are happening today." Money does not drive Mr. Rosewater (or the corrupt lawyer who tries to shape the Rosewater fortune) so much as outrage at the human condition. The novel was adapted for a 1979 Alan Menken musical. The novel is told mostly thru a collection of short stories dealing with Eliot's interactions with the citizens of Rosewater County, usually with the last sentence serving as a punch line. The antagonist's tale, Mushari's, is told in a similar short essay fashion. The stories reveal different hypocrisies of humankind in a darkly humorous fashion.

30 review for God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    One of the more outright funny novels by Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is a scathing social satire about greed, hypocrisy and good, though misshapen intentions. One of the most starkly telling scenes for me is near the end when Elliot has taken up tennis and lost all the weight, and it is as though he has awakened from a long sleep. First published in 1965, Vonnegut shares the story of Eliot Rosewater, an heir to a rich estate who is restless and looks to find his way amid various philan One of the more outright funny novels by Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is a scathing social satire about greed, hypocrisy and good, though misshapen intentions. One of the most starkly telling scenes for me is near the end when Elliot has taken up tennis and lost all the weight, and it is as though he has awakened from a long sleep. First published in 1965, Vonnegut shares the story of Eliot Rosewater, an heir to a rich estate who is restless and looks to find his way amid various philanthropic misadventures, helping the poor, becoming a volunteer firefighter, etc. As a story, Vonnegut is his usual hilarious self, letting his character as narrator drop several times and revealing personal asides. Beneath the surface, the author conveys an allegory about our spiritually hollow lives, a not so subtle dig at capitalism, having more money than sense. and so it goes **** 2019 re-read Re-reading this for the second (or third) time I am again astounded – YES! astounded is the right word – at Vonnegut’s cool, minimalistic narrative ability. Telling the story of Elliot Rosewater, a trust heir who devotes his life to helping the poor, the downtrodden and the luckless, Vonnegut presents one of his best stories about the haves and have nots and one of his more scathingly cynical works. Stepping aside from his more playful works, this one as an edge swimming just under the surface throughout. There is still certainly his wit, humor and homey charm, but his passion for this subject burns through acidly, and even as the reader smiles and laughs along with the comedy, Vonnegut’s liberal sensibilities prickles and teases us to think about wealth distribution. In Elliot, we have one of Vonnegut’s most poignant protagonists. His heroism is tragicomic, being touched as it is by legitimate mental health issues but also by the supposed psychosis of guilt for his riches. Vonnegut is too good to leave us with merely a morality tale about social consciousness – he also asks questions about the effectiveness of blind welfare. Elliot is also a big fan of Kilgore Trout and Vonnegut’s ubiquitous science fiction writer has a cameo. There is also more than a few Shakespearean references, especially to Hamlet, and another painful visit to the firebombing of Dresden. The Rhode Island scenes with the fisherman are some of my favorites in all of his canon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    “The problem is this: how to love people who have no use?” The question raised by the legendary fictitious author Kilgore Trout, in the face of a reality that deals with the ever increasing sophistication of machines, is of more urgency now than in 1965, when Vonnegut wrote this short masterpiece, almost prophetically announcing the world as we know it. It deals with the issues of wealth distribution, guilt, family patterns, inequality, greed, mental health, uselessness and heartlessness, while “The problem is this: how to love people who have no use?” The question raised by the legendary fictitious author Kilgore Trout, in the face of a reality that deals with the ever increasing sophistication of machines, is of more urgency now than in 1965, when Vonnegut wrote this short masterpiece, almost prophetically announcing the world as we know it. It deals with the issues of wealth distribution, guilt, family patterns, inequality, greed, mental health, uselessness and heartlessness, while celebrating absurd plots, dark humour and stories within stories. The character of Eliot Rosewater is deeply touching in his effort to navigate the ruthless world he grows up within. The ideas he comes up with to counterbalance the immense wealth he has inherited - along with a long, mandatory list of required behaviours and opinions - are revolutionary simply for their lack of violence and their focus on individuals rather than principles. What is the meaning of life? Like Saul Bellow’s Dangling Man, Kurt Vonnegut poses the question how to cope with human life without a specific function. However his solution, as represented in the unique Eliot Rosewater, is more optimistic, closing on a call for humanity to break negative patterns and to extend their interest to people that have no other connection to them than the simple fact of shared humanity. This was my fourth Vonnegut, and the one that definitely put him on my all time favourite shelf. I was positively surprised by the hilarious ending, which suggested some hope for humankind, as I had placed Vonnegut high up on the list of authors with the bleakest vision for humanity after I read Cat's Cradle. The trademark dark humour, and the interconnected stories within the main story, that I had enjoyed in Breakfast of Champions, were taken to a higher level in "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater", where the small sideshows added new angles to the overarching message of the general plot. Kurt Vonnegut is one of those authors that get better the more you read them, so I strongly recommend all of you, my dear friends, to get started! If the first one seems confusing, the second will reveal its inherent pattern, the third will explain its sense of humour, and the fourth will be a pure delight, joining all ingredients in a Vonnegut recipe to a perfect dish!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    I read this, very excitingly, to record a podcast episode with AS King. There were so many laugh out loud lines, or profound lines, that I actually ended up reading 80% of this book out loud to my boyfriend. I loved the main character and I think I'll be thinking about the money river for the rest of my life. I read this, very excitingly, to record a podcast episode with AS King. There were so many laugh out loud lines, or profound lines, that I actually ended up reading 80% of this book out loud to my boyfriend. I loved the main character and I think I'll be thinking about the money river for the rest of my life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Secrets of the Money River Vonnegut knew stuff about corporate life that most folk don't. Namely that 1) no one owns the corporation and 2) that the essence of the corporation is the separation of control (dominium in legalese) and benefit (usufructus). The corporation is essentially and magnificently useless. It is an arrangement that would have driven Roman lawyers insane, mainly because they equated control and benefit: if you got the use of something, you owned it. Breaking the link between c Secrets of the Money River Vonnegut knew stuff about corporate life that most folk don't. Namely that 1) no one owns the corporation and 2) that the essence of the corporation is the separation of control (dominium in legalese) and benefit (usufructus). The corporation is essentially and magnificently useless. It is an arrangement that would have driven Roman lawyers insane, mainly because they equated control and benefit: if you got the use of something, you owned it. Breaking the link between control and benefit was to them dangerous, not to say impossible. But medieval lawyers (mostly priests) found a way round the Roman legal tradition. So in Vonnegut's novel the shares (but not the assets) of the Rosewater Company are owned by the Rosewater Trust. The only thing the later can expect from the former is an 'equitable' flow of dividends, which is exactly what it gets. Otherwise the Trust has no say in what the Corporation does or how it does it. The Rosewater Corporation is, in itself, useless. It is the Trust that gives the Corporation its usefulness. The chairmanship of the Trust is hereditary but that has no influence on who runs the company. An excellent summary of the modern corporate condition. As Vonnegut says about his main characters, "Almost all were beneficiaries of boodles and laws that had nothing to do with wisdom or work." They treat themselves as merely extensions of the corporation and as such useless, that is, as making only decisions of control not benefit. The separation of corporate control and benefit opens the way for what Roman lawyers feared most: fraud. Who can say whether those in control, the corporate managers, are really doing their best for the beneficiaries? In fact what can 'best' mean when it is merely the superlative for an infinite number of quite different possible 'goods'? The opportunity for fraud is immense, and historically irresistible. This is the main theme of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: corporate fraud and how to combat it. Fraud pervades the book: from Norman Mushari's attempts to wrest control of the Rosewater Trust to Amanita Buntline's affected passion for Beethoven, mistakenly played at the wrong speed. The big fraud of course is that those with corporate control create social benefit. They don't. As Selena, Buntline's maid says, "It’s the way they have of thinking that everything nice in the world is a gift to the poor people from them or their ancestors." This includes, "... the ocean, the moon, the stars in the sky, and the United States Constitution." Some folk do benefit by the legal arrangements of corporate capitalism. There are "about seven" in Rosewater County, Indiana for example. But aside from them, it's the fraudsters who end up on top. Legal arrangements being what they are, the corporate world is, as the Romans knew it would be, like the "1812 Overture played on a kazoo." That is to say a false representation of something magnificent: the instinct to do something beneficial for ones fellow man. Vonnegut suggests two options for overcoming the power of the false representation in corporate capitalism, insanity or generosity. The fact that Donald Trump is president of the United States suggests that most people, most Americans anyhow, prefer the first option.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    I always seemed to have done things the way I wanted to when I was a kid. Being mildly autistic, I learned things a lot differently than other kids - sometimes with none of it, especially math, sinking in! I thought differently (but I was really half-dreaming). I played piano differently (but I thundered downward on the keys, instead of flexibly moving my fingers Into them). And I laughed hysterically (but usually with glee, especially at teenaged deranged cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle). So, I always seemed to have done things the way I wanted to when I was a kid. Being mildly autistic, I learned things a lot differently than other kids - sometimes with none of it, especially math, sinking in! I thought differently (but I was really half-dreaming). I played piano differently (but I thundered downward on the keys, instead of flexibly moving my fingers Into them). And I laughed hysterically (but usually with glee, especially at teenaged deranged cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle). So, also, I laughed hysterically at my first Vonnegut book, which musta seemed like a cartoon but wasn’t - and it was probably Sirens of Titan. I had heard all about the new Boomer Counterculture Sensation, Kurt V., from my Grandmother’s Atlantic Magazine, and from my Mom’s New York Times Book Review. The best thing for us Boomer Boppers since fresh sliced white bread, they all said. Of course I was scandalized by Vonnegut’s crudeness, but thought I had to make a mature dent in such books - ones my parents’ more mature generation even endorsed - so reading Vonnegut ushered me into an oddly skewed adult world. Most of the jokes I didn’t get, for I was a teen with no political savvy. But then again Woodstock was fanatically dear to my teen peers, so I fell in with a bandwagon of countercultural political leaning. Of course later - combining leftist sentiment with conservative morality - I couldn’t see the Mack Truck Barrelling in my direction, in the rear view blind spot that was my nonexistent (and a little autistic) perspicuity. But that’s my history. By the time I read Eliot Rosewater’s story, I could still laugh, thanks to my then mid-teen sister’s youthful giggling presence in my life, but it was after my ‘accident’, so Mr. Rosewater was for me a bitterly sardonic type of laugh. School of Hard Knocks, anyone? Just check your joy at the door! The bored, faded girl there at the check stand will give you your ticket. That’s why I was VERY happy today to read my good friend Brian’s review here (because he showed me a reason for joy in this book - which I thought joyless). You see, I never knew black humour in my life, because, like Norman Peale, I’ve always tried to see goodness in those around me. And also, just like Eliot Rosewater, I was the cynics’ whipping boy. So, when Brian resurrected Eliot from the depths of my depressive reaction to this novel, and showed the outright godliness in Mr Rosewater’s altruistic demeanour, I was overjoyed. Because, Brian, you have rescued Eliot’s reputation for me. And my warped understanding of this book - Which was always threatened by an incipient cloud of despair over my shared fallen humanity - As Brian so skilfully shows, was never this great author’s intention.

  6. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine looks at a man with nearly unlimited money, Eliot Rosewater, who wants to help the poor but more often seems out of touch, eccentric or downright insane. There is a cartoon strip with this novel’s subtitle, Pearls Before Swine. Like Vonnegut’s own writing, this comic strip offers dark humor, crazy characters and lots of social commentary. I’m not positive Stephan Pastis, the creator, took the name of his comic strip from Vonnegu Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine looks at a man with nearly unlimited money, Eliot Rosewater, who wants to help the poor but more often seems out of touch, eccentric or downright insane. There is a cartoon strip with this novel’s subtitle, Pearls Before Swine. Like Vonnegut’s own writing, this comic strip offers dark humor, crazy characters and lots of social commentary. I’m not positive Stephan Pastis, the creator, took the name of his comic strip from Vonnegut’s title; however, it makes for an interesting comparison. While Vonnegut doesn’t appear in his novels, his alter egos most certainly do. Partially based on a fellow writer, but also undoubtedly Vonnegut himself, one of my favorite characters, Kilgore Trout, makes his first appearance in a Vonnegut novel. Likewise, In Pearls Before Swine, Stephas Pastis provides commentary in his own appearances. Something else worth mentioning, Eliot Rosewater’s sporadic attempts to do good don’t offer much of a plot, but again like the comic strip, his actions are replete with social commentary. Maybe more could be said about the two, but I’ll end the comparison there. “In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine, too. So—if we can’t find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out.” “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” The dignity of human beings, rather than any specific plot, is always close to the surface of Vonnegut’s works. From his novel Player Piano, on, Vonnegut has also been prophetic about the direction of automation replacing human beings. But he is vehement that people have a value outside of any job or any role they might have in society. What’s working against the tendency to value people, however, is greed exemplified in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by corporations. “Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.” God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is a solid Vonnegut read! And did I mention this was Kilgore Trout’s first appearance in Vonnegut’s work? 4.5 stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    The Rosewater Foundation has more money than God. When Eliot Rosewater, the current head, starts making people nervous with all his talk of redistributing wealth, Norman Mushari decides to put Eliot's sanity to test in court and reaches out to the Rhode Island branch of the Rosewater family. Kurt Vonnegut takes on capitalism and socialism in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the fourth book of his I've read. I'm still not sure how I feel about the esteemed Mr. Vonnegut. I think his writing is excepti The Rosewater Foundation has more money than God. When Eliot Rosewater, the current head, starts making people nervous with all his talk of redistributing wealth, Norman Mushari decides to put Eliot's sanity to test in court and reaches out to the Rhode Island branch of the Rosewater family. Kurt Vonnegut takes on capitalism and socialism in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the fourth book of his I've read. I'm still not sure how I feel about the esteemed Mr. Vonnegut. I think his writing is exceptional but his plots are all over the place. To put things as simply as I can, Eliot Rosewater goes off his nut and finds salvation in the form of hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and being a volunteer firefighter in the town of Rosewater, Indiana. His generous behavior, coupled with his alcoholic lifestyle, worry his family's lawyers enough for Norman Mushari to try to hijack the Rosewater legacy out from under him. Hilarity and some convoluted antics ensue. Like all Vonnegut novels, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater points out the absurdities of life. In this case, generosity in a world of capitalists. Vonnegut peppers the text with pearls of wisdom, such as “There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.” The central message of the book seems to be that in a world where more people are replaced by robots and computers every day, even people without purpose need to be loved. Soon, we'll all be in that boat. In the end, Eliot manages to stick it to the man and all is as right with the world as it can be in a Kurt Vonnegut book. So it goes. At the end of the day, I'm not sure how I felt about this book. I liked some parts quite a bit and others just seemed like filler. It wasn't my favorite Vonnegut but it was at least as good as Galápagos. Three out of five stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    I do love a good rant in a novel. And although this work might feel light on plot, it contained some really funny bellowing speeches that made up for it - a good few on behalf of Senitor Rosewater - whose son Eliot, the forty-three-year-old protagonist, is quite literally driven insane - or should that be oversane - by his quest for equality. Heir to a multi-million dollar fortune, he renounces his life of being a playboy and heads from the eastcoast to the run-down midwest town where his ancest I do love a good rant in a novel. And although this work might feel light on plot, it contained some really funny bellowing speeches that made up for it - a good few on behalf of Senitor Rosewater - whose son Eliot, the forty-three-year-old protagonist, is quite literally driven insane - or should that be oversane - by his quest for equality. Heir to a multi-million dollar fortune, he renounces his life of being a playboy and heads from the eastcoast to the run-down midwest town where his ancestors first made their mark, and takes up poverty as a vocation, with his heart set upon helping the undeserving poor by offering sums of money through the Rosewater Foundation. A drunk, and lover of science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, Eliot - who has several nervous breakdowns behind him, leading back to his days serving in WW2 - is out to prove that the dislike of useless people, and the cruelties that are inflicted upon them for their own good, need not be part of human nature. There is a problem though, in the shape of the lawyer Mushari. And it's here the narrative switches to another Rosewater. Mushari is out to prove that Eliot is clearly wacko, and that the heir to the fortune should be Fred Rosewater, a much poorer member of the Rosewater family, who is an insurance salesman with bags of low self-esteem and a wife & child who bearly speak to him. Vonnegut looks at the themes of wealth inequality, class systems, charity, and of course, money (he even in his first sentence says a sum of money is the lead character) and how, depending on how much or how little, it effects our self-worth. What I particularly loved about this novel - along with Eliot who is now going to be impossible to forget - is Vonnegut's brilliantly constructed sentences, that feature many a great quote on what felt like nearly every page. Such a joy to read. Something like a 4.7 out of 5. Mother Night is still my fave, but, surprising to some, I much preffered this to Slaughterhouse-Five.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    Once I realized and accepted the fact that I will never completely understand what Kurt Vonnegut writes, it became a lot easier for me to read his books. My first attempt at reading his work - Cat's Cradle resulted in me staring at the page, mentally shouting at Kurt Vonnegut, "What are you even TALKING about?" Reading Slaughter-House Five went slightly better, and by the time I read Mr. Rosewater, I was completely at peace with Vonnegut's "maybe this all has deep meaning and maybe I'm just pull Once I realized and accepted the fact that I will never completely understand what Kurt Vonnegut writes, it became a lot easier for me to read his books. My first attempt at reading his work - Cat's Cradle resulted in me staring at the page, mentally shouting at Kurt Vonnegut, "What are you even TALKING about?" Reading Slaughter-House Five went slightly better, and by the time I read Mr. Rosewater, I was completely at peace with Vonnegut's "maybe this all has deep meaning and maybe I'm just pulling it out of my ass" style. Confusing possible-symbolism aside, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is an intriguing look at wealth and charity in America. And why lawyers are evil. Also, I was happy to see that the infamous Kilgore Trout, my favorite recurring Vonnegut character, made another appearance in the story of Mr. Rosewater.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies— God damn it, you've got to be kind." ― Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater I've only got two big rules with my two babies (one boy, one girl): # 1 be happy, # 2 be kind. Everything else is negotable. It appears that Kurt Vonnegut independently arrived at the same conclusio "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies— God damn it, you've got to be kind." ― Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater I've only got two big rules with my two babies (one boy, one girl): # 1 be happy, # 2 be kind. Everything else is negotable. It appears that Kurt Vonnegut independently arrived at the same conclusion. 'God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater' happens to be a fairly straight-forward novel about money and charity. Vonnegut's novel (also known as Pearls before Swine) is about the Rosewater family and how they invest their efforts into a foundation as a means of keeping the government from taxing their money. The problem is Eliot Rosewater (the protagonist) ends up not caring much about money and being infinitely charitable and kind. This obviously is a form of insanity that either needs to be exploited or protected. In some ways it reminds me of a simplified, satirized version of Dostoevsky's 'the Idiot'. When people are good, selfless, and caring in a world like the one we all live in, they must be stupid or a little nuts. They certainly aren't likely to survive.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leonard Gaya

    When, in the beginning, the Father created Man and Woman, he took a good look at everything that he had made and declared that, indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning. He then left these hairless talking apes to graze for a time in his luxury garden. But when he realised they were discussing the merits of their naked bodies and eating up his orchard, thus leaving next to nothing for his divine apfelstrudels, he scratched his beard and reconsidered. The hairless ape When, in the beginning, the Father created Man and Woman, he took a good look at everything that he had made and declared that, indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning. He then left these hairless talking apes to graze for a time in his luxury garden. But when he realised they were discussing the merits of their naked bodies and eating up his orchard, thus leaving next to nothing for his divine apfelstrudels, he scratched his beard and reconsidered. The hairless apes ended up booted out of Eden, on account of some lizard, and they became henceforth subject to floods, wars, unemployment, decrepitude and global pandemics. Much, later, came the Son. He was trying to be kind to the world, yet the world knew him not. Some found his attitude a bit eccentric, and since mental institutions did not exist at the time and people were a bit more expeditious, he ended up on a cross on a sizzling hot day, with little more than a drink of vinegar. And the Holy Ghost, perched atop the cross and frankly a bit perplexed by the whole situation, sang. “Poo-tee-weet?” But I digress. Getting back to the subject — In God bless you, Mr. Rosewater (1965), something similar happens. Senator Lister Ames Rosewater, the father, is a wealthy politician and businessman. His goal in life might be to care for his constituents, but the truth is a bit less romantic: he couldn’t care less, as long as they vote for him and let him have his cake and eat it. And so are his parasitic lawyers! His son, Eliot Rosewater, on the other hand, is an idealist, maybe a bit “mad north-north-west”. He travels back to his family’s hometown and gives away everything he’s got, money, time, love, all to the little people and the nobodies, all these men and women modern society has made loveless and useless. Eliot won’t end up on a cross, but close enough. Kurt Vonnegut’s fifth novel is a bit of a valley between two peaks (Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five). So, a bit underwhelming for Vonnegut’s standard, but still, by and large, excellent. It is mostly a form of engaged literature, revealing the dehumanising properties of wealth and “swim-or-sink” competitive ideology, and rooting instead for social equality, generosity, plain human decency and unconditional kindness — a sorely missed set of values in our present time. Mr. Rosewater has a few biblical undertones and, in a way, is a morality tale in the vein of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Similarly, perhaps, Mr. Rosewater could be construed as an anti-Atlas Shrugged (1957)... Perhaps, might you say, it is all a bit naive? Maybe so. If anything, Mr. Rosewater is the work of a big-hearted man. At any rate, Vonnegut fights injustice with the tools of a masterful modern author, switching his angles, tone and style, jumping from one thing to the next at every turn, in a way that might feel a bit disorienting at times, but exhilarating always. He manages to be at once hilarious and warm, scathing and compassionate, pessimistic and hopeful, effortlessly astounding in many ways. Kilgore Trout, a pulp sci-fi writer and possibly Vonnegut’s alter ego (also appearing in Slaughterhouse-Five), expresses the prophetic pith of this novel, towards the end, in no uncertain terms: “The problem is this: How to love people who have no use? “In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine, too. So — if we can’t find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out.” “Americans have long been taught to hate all people who will not or cannot work, to hate even themselves for that. We can thank the vanished frontier for that piece of common-sense cruelty. The time is coming, if it isn’t here now, when it will no longer be common sense. It will simply be cruel.” (LoA, p. 332) Nuff said!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" is indeed, as many reviewers have said, Mr. Vonnegut's most blatantly socialistic book. However, it is also quite obviously his most Christian. The text's protagonist, Eliot Rosewater, is nothing short of a benign Jesus figure. Numerous biblical references throughout the text are used as corollaries to Eliot's life and the plethora of those references make Vonnegut's point pretty obvious for the reader. This text is less plot driven than many of Vonnegut's other wor "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" is indeed, as many reviewers have said, Mr. Vonnegut's most blatantly socialistic book. However, it is also quite obviously his most Christian. The text's protagonist, Eliot Rosewater, is nothing short of a benign Jesus figure. Numerous biblical references throughout the text are used as corollaries to Eliot's life and the plethora of those references make Vonnegut's point pretty obvious for the reader. This text is less plot driven than many of Vonnegut's other works, but its themes and importance I think are far superior to many of his better written novels. The first 100 pages or so can be a little dull (not normal in a Vonnegut text) and the slow start is something his readers may not be used to. However, the text does build to what I think is a wonderfully written and executed conclusion. Two highlights of the book are Eliot's baptism "sermon" for two twin boys that he is asked to baptize. Eliot has no religious titles or significance, so he just speaks to his hope for the boy's futures, ending with a simple and profound statement, "God damn it, you've got to be kind." Another excellent moment in the text is a biting letter written by an orphan named Selena who is serving as the maid in a rich household. The letter is written to the man who runs the orphanage that she came from, and it has the bite and sting that can only come through the eyes of a child. Vonnegut is at the top of his game in these sections. Further highlighting the idea of Eliot as a Christ figure Vonnegut has Eliot well aware that those he helps are ingrates at best, and almost all are undeserving of his generosity and love. It is a great strength of the text that "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" freely admits that the people who need the help the most are often the most undeserving, and the acknowledgement of that is a great strength of the book. The most blatant Christian references, and I think the most powerful parts of the text, start on page 264 when Vonnegut has his go to character (Kilgore Trout) explain what Eliot was attempting to do by helping anyone who asked, regardless of the circumstances. The 6 pages where Trout "explains" the "experiment" are worth the price of the book alone. They are stunningly simple and beautiful. I was trembling with joy as I read them. It is really nothing less than a secular Sermon on the Mount. I won't ruin the end of the book here, but Vonnegut completes the obvious Christ archetype with Eliot in a manner that is unexpected, true to the character of Eliot, and perfect. And then Vonnegut in that way of his stops writing, it is over, the end. The rest is up to you. Very few novels make me think about my obligations to others in this world, this book did. It has stuck with me, and will. And for that I say God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Rude, but Not Construed A satire on American society, capitalism, and religious and sexual hypocrisy, Vonnegut’s ensemble includes Eliot Rosewater (a less unfortunate Jay Gatsby/F. Scott Fitzgerald who lives long enough to be charitable with his family’s trust funds), his father Senator Lister Rosewater (a male incarnation of Ayn Rand, whose "Atlas Shrugged" was published eight years before and "The Virtue of Selfishness" the year before this novel) and science fiction novelist Kilgore Rude, but Not Construed A satire on American society, capitalism, and religious and sexual hypocrisy, Vonnegut’s ensemble includes Eliot Rosewater (a less unfortunate Jay Gatsby/F. Scott Fitzgerald who lives long enough to be charitable with his family’s trust funds), his father Senator Lister Rosewater (a male incarnation of Ayn Rand, whose "Atlas Shrugged" was published eight years before and "The Virtue of Selfishness" the year before this novel) and science fiction novelist Kilgore Trout (who resembles Jesus Christ in appearance - until he shaves his beard off – and philosophy - "the problem is this: how to love people without any use" and how to embrace "enthusiastic unselfishness"). Also featured en masse are the desperate "useless" poor ("the pearls") and the rapacious "useful" rich ("the swine"). Eliot believes, "There’s plenty for everybody in this country, if we’ll only share more." Instead, the rich bully their way to the trough, so they can slurp more from the Money River, protesting: "What about incentive?" Meanwhile they "pretend to be good always, so that even God will be fooled." In a preemptive reversal of "Infinite Jest", Eliot suffers a black out, then becomes a legendary tennis player. When complimented on his political platform, Kilgore Trout returns serve with "Thank you." It's up to us to determine whether this defines his gratitude or his platform. Inspired, Eliot gives, in a way that can be regarded as either Christian or Socialist – to each according to their needs. Vonnegut, embarrassed by his allegory, disclaims, "All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental, and should not be construed." And so the construction must end here. Thank you. SOUNDTRACK: The Beatles - "Piggies" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXdKlp...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Spaigjht

    A funny exploration of capitalism and definitions of sanity.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    "Corporations are people, my friend." Mitt Romney, former Presidential hopeful and owner of a car elevator The Rosewater Corporation was dedicated to prudence and profit, to balance sheets. Their main enterprise was the churning of stocks and bonds of other corporations. Their secret motto? Grab too much, or you'll get nothing at all. They are also in charge of the capital of the charitable and cultural Rosewater Foundation. Norman Mushari, a recent hire at a DC law firm (He had an enormous ass whic "Corporations are people, my friend." Mitt Romney, former Presidential hopeful and owner of a car elevator The Rosewater Corporation was dedicated to prudence and profit, to balance sheets. Their main enterprise was the churning of stocks and bonds of other corporations. Their secret motto? Grab too much, or you'll get nothing at all. They are also in charge of the capital of the charitable and cultural Rosewater Foundation. Norman Mushari, a recent hire at a DC law firm (He had an enormous ass which was luminous when bare.), has begun plotting a violent overthrow of the Rosewater Foundation. How? By proving that the President of the Foundation, Eliot Rosewater, is a raving lunatic. And so begins the tale... Though Vonnegut's book was published in 1965, it seems almost prophetic when it describes the American class system. Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling... Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. If you're a member of the 1%, this book will only angry up your blood with its "socialist" messages, and you should probably stick with Ayn Rand. However, Vonnegut manages to offer some of the best advice EVER for new human beings...and the rest of us, rich and poor, would do well to follow his lesson: Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of babies ---: "God damn it, you've got to be kind."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan Budd

    This is “a really good science-fiction book ... about money” (23), even though it’s not really a science-fiction book. The science-fiction is supplied by Kilgore Trout, who tells the same story as his creator. In Oh Say Can You Smell? a dictator solves the problem of odors by eliminating noses. In God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the wealthy solve the problem of poverty by eliminating conscience. And if that doesn’t work, they can borrow a page from 2BRO2B and build purple-roofed Ethical Suicide Pa This is “a really good science-fiction book ... about money” (23), even though it’s not really a science-fiction book. The science-fiction is supplied by Kilgore Trout, who tells the same story as his creator. In Oh Say Can You Smell? a dictator solves the problem of odors by eliminating noses. In God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the wealthy solve the problem of poverty by eliminating conscience. And if that doesn’t work, they can borrow a page from 2BRO2B and build purple-roofed Ethical Suicide Parlors to solve the problem of “useless human beings” (269).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    The company I work for has a department called « corporate giving », and I can’t help but find that hilarious. These people’s job basically consists of working with a set budget for donation purposes, but they are also constantly looking for the way to get the best return on their charity. “If we sponsor event X, our name will be on their website, printed on a big banner and in the program, we get to invite clients to wine and dine them, and then we can network with the other guests, exchange bu The company I work for has a department called « corporate giving », and I can’t help but find that hilarious. These people’s job basically consists of working with a set budget for donation purposes, but they are also constantly looking for the way to get the best return on their charity. “If we sponsor event X, our name will be on their website, printed on a big banner and in the program, we get to invite clients to wine and dine them, and then we can network with the other guests, exchange business cards, organize lunches and get new clients!”. And of course, there are tax breaks for that donation money… Now don’t get me wrong: I understand how capitalism works and why that whole process is necessary in a large business, but it also makes me vaguely uncomfortable because this whole thing is marketing thinly disguised as generosity. The concept of charity and wealth redistribution is only part of this process as a side-effect. It was hard to not think of that department, and of the rather upsetting current political climate, as I was reading “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater”. In this book, Vonnegut tells the story of Eliot Rosewater, a millionaire and trustee of a large fortune, who develops a *gasp* social conscience and wants to give away his money to poor people; this leads a lawyer working for his corporation to think he is mentally insane. Incidentally, if the trustee is proven to be mentally unfit, the money passes down to the nearest relative, and the lawyer is hoping to grab a slice of the pie for himself in the transition process. While that may sound like a very simple story line, there is much more to this book than meets the eye. Of course, you can expect Vonnegut’s trademark weird humor. But he also wants to talk about the dehumanizing potential of wealth and greed and the way such sentiments destroyed the so-called utopic American Dream. After all, can we really call a place a land of unlimited opportunity when the wealth and privilege are hoarded by a handful of people, who work really hard to make it impossible for others to get on the same level as them? Compassion, in this context, is almost an act of rebellion, and it is sadly ironic that Eliot’s urge to help those less fortunate than him is considered a symptom of mental illness by his family and lawyers. It’s interesting to remember that this book was written in a day and age where communism was the enemy of the state – and in a country that’s quite fanatically (and bizarrely) Christian, but where the idea of taking care of one’s fellow man always seems to sound heretical. It’s something we hear Republicans say over and over again: poor people are lazy and if they just worked hard enough, they’d be fine and wouldn’t need all these socialist bail outs… Eliot gives money, time, compassion and energy to the people of Rosewater county, and it doesn’t seem to solve the problem. People need to feel loved, but they also need to feel valued, and that’s not always easy in the stratified society they live in. I was touched by Eliot’s efforts to right what he believes is wrong and to atone for that horrible mistake he can’t seem to get passed. The book is fun and thought-provoking, but very scattered – this is actually the big flaw with Vonnegut’s books in general and it diminishes my enjoyment a little bit. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting and moving - and the amazing end twist has a surprisingly optimistic note to it. Interestingly, as I read this book, I became aware of a New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/bu...) that opens up a new and fascinating conversation about the social responsibility of public companies. I am thrilled to see a major investor challenging the notion that giving shareholders a good return on investment is the one true purpose of a corporation and that the rest of the world is none of their business. Hope?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    The sentiments behind this book are pretty clear. It's hard to believe this is nearly half a century old, because it still feels stingingly relevant in a world of austerity, Tea Party Republicanism and millionaire presidential candidates. The plot (such as it is) flops around sloppily, but that's Vonnegut for you. There is a plot, but it's less important than the ideas Vonnegut is presenting. It's a polemic about wealth – the timeline doesn't matter so much. There's more to Eliot Rosewater here th The sentiments behind this book are pretty clear. It's hard to believe this is nearly half a century old, because it still feels stingingly relevant in a world of austerity, Tea Party Republicanism and millionaire presidential candidates. The plot (such as it is) flops around sloppily, but that's Vonnegut for you. There is a plot, but it's less important than the ideas Vonnegut is presenting. It's a polemic about wealth – the timeline doesn't matter so much. There's more to Eliot Rosewater here than the character as presented in Slaughterhouse Five. In that other book, Rosewater comes across as a cynic, supplying meaningless platitudes. In this novel, he genuinely believes what he says. He's an embarrassment to his family, a disappointment to his wife, but he's trying to find his own way of doing things; he's just trying to be kind, even if it makes everyone around him think he's crazy. He's exploring something his family can't possibly understand, and that thing is selflessness. There's a lot here about families being spread out and distanced from each other. It's Vonnegut writing about himself again. I love Eliot Rosewater's baptism advice, but some of the standout moments are what Vonnegut reveals of himself, like when he writes about "sons of suicides". There are odd little moments like this when Vonnegut quietly reflects, and they're like little Easter eggs for Vonnegut fans. Some of the funniest moments, for me, are the random ideas inserted as Kilgore Trout short stories: Oh Say Can You Smell?, First District Court of Thankyou, and the monologue by Selena Deal, describing the Buntlines' ignorance of classical music. The ending seems to come quite abruptly, and the pay-off at the end is a neat punchline, but wasn't entirely satisfying - it felt rushed, though Eliot Rosewater's actions are entirely in character. *** UPDATE 2021-03-16 *** New take: it's as if Vonnegut was inspired by a Christian conservative car sticker and, musing on large amounts of accumulated wealth, asked "What Would Jesus Do?" What would Jesus have done with a huge pot of money? What would the parable look like? Already I can hear conservatives contemplating their car stickers and scrambling to find some particle of scripture – probably in the Old Testament – that asserts property rights... I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this book is what the parable looks like. Jesus and the Pot of Gold.

  19. 4 out of 5

    James Tingle

    I have read six Kurt Vonnegut novels now and I think Cat's Cradle, Player Piano and this one, God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, are the best so far, with this one topping the list. Eliot Rosewater has inherited a load of money and doesn't feel he deserves such riches and lives with a nagging sense of guilt and a hatred of his privileged position in life, that he sees as more of a curse. He starts to drink a lot and wants to give large sums away and volunteers as a firefighter at one point, to further I have read six Kurt Vonnegut novels now and I think Cat's Cradle, Player Piano and this one, God Bless You, Mr Rosewater, are the best so far, with this one topping the list. Eliot Rosewater has inherited a load of money and doesn't feel he deserves such riches and lives with a nagging sense of guilt and a hatred of his privileged position in life, that he sees as more of a curse. He starts to drink a lot and wants to give large sums away and volunteers as a firefighter at one point, to further attempt to assuage his guilt of having too much and to 'give a little back' as the phrase goes... The plot is quite basic really and gives plenty of room to the central question that is- If you don't have to work and spend your life preoccupied with making money, what do you do with your time and what is your purpose? That is the central problem for Eliot and is the thing that drives him to drink, as he struggles with a search for some substance and meaning in his life. There is a balance between gentle humour and soul searching in the novel which I thought worked well and the book had a poignancy about it and an undercurrent of sadness and quiet despair that gets under your skin as you reach the end... For me, it was the only book I've read by him so far that I'd definitely want to read again, as I connected somewhat with that emptiness he had and that longing Eliot felt for something nameless and intangible, always just out of reach. I found it melancholic, thought provoking and unusual, but in a good way, and it has a strange, mysterious attraction, somehow hard to convey clearly...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brett C

    I enjoyed reading this peculiar story. Kurt Vonnegut has such a unique approach to storytelling. His stories are infused with black humor, thought provoking themes, and a one-of-a-kind rhetoric. I liked the main character Eliot Rosewater and his selfless endeavors. Throughout he provided much by acting as both financial and emotional support to total strangers. There is a lot to be said of someone like this. The story dealt with humanity, mental illness/alcoholism, and conflicting greed/giving. K I enjoyed reading this peculiar story. Kurt Vonnegut has such a unique approach to storytelling. His stories are infused with black humor, thought provoking themes, and a one-of-a-kind rhetoric. I liked the main character Eliot Rosewater and his selfless endeavors. Throughout he provided much by acting as both financial and emotional support to total strangers. There is a lot to be said of someone like this. The story dealt with humanity, mental illness/alcoholism, and conflicting greed/giving. Kurt Vonnegut even briefly exposes his World War II and Dresden experiences which are later revealed in full detail in his magnum opus 'Slaughterhouse Five'. This book will have a special place for me and I will reread it most likely. I would recommend this one to any Kurt Vonnegut fan. Thanks!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    My favorite bits are the two pornographic novels-within-the-novel, Garvey Ulm's Get With Child a Mandrake Root and Kilgore Trout's Venus on the Half-Shell, both marvelously suggested by illustrative paragraphs. Philip José Farmer was tasteless enough actually to write the second book. I suppose we can at least be glad that he didn't get around to writing the first one as well. My favorite bits are the two pornographic novels-within-the-novel, Garvey Ulm's Get With Child a Mandrake Root and Kilgore Trout's Venus on the Half-Shell, both marvelously suggested by illustrative paragraphs. Philip José Farmer was tasteless enough actually to write the second book. I suppose we can at least be glad that he didn't get around to writing the first one as well.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6) Kurt Vonnegut was ahead of his time. How many people in 1965 were concerned about the gap between rich and poor? The drawbacks of capitalism? Or the environment? As he said elsewhere, we were rolling drunk on petroleum at this point in history. All these ideas were just getting started, shaking up the status quo. Here in the early 21st ce Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6) Kurt Vonnegut was ahead of his time. How many people in 1965 were concerned about the gap between rich and poor? The drawbacks of capitalism? Or the environment? As he said elsewhere, we were rolling drunk on petroleum at this point in history. All these ideas were just getting started, shaking up the status quo. Here in the early 21st century, they are much more influential. The author isn't subtle about setting up Eliot Rosewater as the holy fool who believes that he can use the Rosewater fortune for good. He is continually casting his pearls of kindness and compassion before the swine of the capitalist system, and they do try to tear him to pieces. Being subtle is a good way to be overlooked, after all. I love this book because it introduces Kilgore Trout, the unsuccessful science fiction writer whose works seem to end up almost exclusively in pornography shops. Is Trout an alter ego for the author? I suspect so, as he wanders through Vonnegut's published works at will. The problem is this: How to love people who have no use? In time, almost all men and women will be worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine too. So—if we can't find methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out. It seems to me that this Covid-19 (doesn't that sound like Vonnegut named it?) pandemic has started to push us closer to this with the idea of the guaranteed income. Recognizing that everyone should have the basics, whether they've been successful or not. That jobs are decreasing as robotics and artificial intelligences take on more roles. I first read Vonnegut as an undergraduate in my 20s and I loved his questioning of the system and irreverence for Western society's sacred cows. Today, in my late 50s, I find myself focusing on what I think is one of his main ideas: Babies, God damn it, you've got to be kind. Kindness for not only our families and friends, but also for those less fortunate and even for those who are supposedly more fortunate. A trip down memory lane. Cross posted at my blog: https://wanda-thenextfifty.blogspot.c...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Girish

    "The problem is this: How to love people who have no use? In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine, too. So - if we can't find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are -human beings- then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out." After reading a handful of Vonnegut books, I can safely sa "The problem is this: How to love people who have no use? In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine, too. So - if we can't find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are -human beings- then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out." After reading a handful of Vonnegut books, I can safely say this is the book anyone, who wants to try his books, would want to start with. Brilliant! Elliot Rosewater is the heir to the Rosewater trust whose misplaced sense of philanthropy wants him to love every person in his city. He is a volunteer fireman, a suicide helpline attender who is impervious to the fuss of staying rich. There are quite a few strong arguments for distribution of wealth, but more of loving all people. Where money is involved, you have lawyers and a particularly cunning one Norman Mushari is out to put an end to this nonsense. And so we have Norman Mushari trying to prove Elliot Rosewater is insane (does not have kids either) and hence the trust should be inherited by a distant cousin - Frank Rosewater who is an insurance sales guy on the verge of ending his life. Elliot with his father, Senator Rosewater, doctor and a sci-fi author Kiligore Trout are on one side. The book is one of the openly hilarious reads which touches a chord. In one of the most touching scenes, we see a moment of genuine happiness shared between a fisherman and his sons only to be told in the next chapter that they are bankrupt. Questions are asked of the correlation between money and happiness. Or the suicide helpline where Elliot offers money to anybody who calls to live just one more week. We also meet Kiligore Trout and read his famous book 2BR02B on an automated world (chillingly close to reality). The book is filled with pluses! "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” " I finished the book and felt so much love for people in general. I would have laughed out loud at least once every 10 pages. This is a Perfect book. Highly recommended!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dusty Myers

    I had a friend back in Pittsburgh who was incredibly smart and very kind and funny, but had a tendency toward literary snobbishness. (I know: can you imagine such a person?) Once he had something disparaging to say about Kurt Vonnegut, I can't remember exactly what. Some well timed comment that pretty much wrote him off as a hack, and I recall being almost hurt by it, seeing as how Vonnegut wrote so much stuff I loved as a teen. And I guess that's maybe the rub. I loved Vonnegut as a teen. Sure I I had a friend back in Pittsburgh who was incredibly smart and very kind and funny, but had a tendency toward literary snobbishness. (I know: can you imagine such a person?) Once he had something disparaging to say about Kurt Vonnegut, I can't remember exactly what. Some well timed comment that pretty much wrote him off as a hack, and I recall being almost hurt by it, seeing as how Vonnegut wrote so much stuff I loved as a teen. And I guess that's maybe the rub. I loved Vonnegut as a teen. Sure I only read Slaughterhouse 5 and Cat's Cradle and the collected stories. Breakfast of Champions. Slapstick? I read like five of his books. Timequake, six. And so when I found this audiobook I thought it would be a good one to listen to on my trip. It was not good. Vonnegut's Redistribute All Wealth moral is completely overbearing, and so whatever aims for satire seemed to just fall off to dumb and obvious caricature. (Quickest plot summary ever: The scion of a wealthy family is crazy, maybe, but just so crazy that he considers actually helping people rather than using them to create more wealth.) The final scene reads only like a punchline. I could practically hear the rimshot at the end of the book, and this is no way for a novel to end. Maybe a short story, which form maybe Vonnegut should have reserved for this story. Also, I don't understand why he has such a loathing, in this novel, for dependent clauses joined with anything other than a stupid, belchlike comma. Let me cue up one of the chapters at random and write the first example I hear (okay that took twenty seconds, is how rampant these sentences are in the novel): "Norman Mushari killed the afternoon by driving over to Newport, paid a quarter to tour the famous Rumford mansion." Am I the only person who reads in such a sentence a downright scorn for the English language? There's like this gross boredom with the actions of the character, as though whatever motivations or mental processes that linked all causal events in the novel were of no concern. One can postmodernly argue these are all myths, but while Vonnegut gets lumped in with the postmodernists he's not that kind of postmodernist. I don't recall this construction in his other novels, but I wasn't as sensitive to syntax I was then, was instead a reader for story. Man, even typing one out feels like rubbing someone else's feces into my keyboard.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nada Elshabrawy

    God Bless you Mr.Vonnegut.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Oh, man...I love this novel. Like all my favorite novels, I will never get tired of reading it over and over again. What I love about Vonnegut is that he is so cynical about his own opinions, and that his characters are so often pitiable, likable, and irritating all at once. I love that the protagonist (Eliot Rosewater) is a kind of lovable, asexual loser hippie idealist who thinks love will cure capitalism, etc...and you can start to feel like, "hey man...maybe it can..." while you never have a Oh, man...I love this novel. Like all my favorite novels, I will never get tired of reading it over and over again. What I love about Vonnegut is that he is so cynical about his own opinions, and that his characters are so often pitiable, likable, and irritating all at once. I love that the protagonist (Eliot Rosewater) is a kind of lovable, asexual loser hippie idealist who thinks love will cure capitalism, etc...and you can start to feel like, "hey man...maybe it can..." while you never have any illusions about how he's a loser hippie idealist who won't actually change much in the long run, and probably neither will you. Vonnegut does have his moments - in all his books - where you think (well, where I think), "ugh...why does he have to go and get all post-WWII masculine on us...and just when it was going so well?" He is extremely bad at writing women. They are often bitches and/or crazy and/or sexually problematic in one way or another. BUT...I don't really mind. It's well worth it for the moments of hilariously cynical brilliance. My favorite character is Eliot Rosewater's father, the irritable and repressed Senator Rosewater. He announces that "the difference between pornography and art is bodily hair" (which amusingly dates both the Senator and the novel). He watches in horror as his adult son steps out of the bath and absentmindedly unfurls one of his own pubic hairs - then delights at the discovery that said hair is over a foot long.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danger

    2nd time reading this book: Vonnegut’s satire of American aristocracy is as poignant today as I imagine it would’ve been when he wrote it in 1965, perhaps unsurprisingly so, as the type of ‘old money’ ideology he paints in this novel is still the same kind of ‘old money’ ideology that exists today. Written in the earlier half of his catalog, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater occasionally drags its feet when considering Vonnegut’s oeuvre in its totality - but that’s only in comparing him against himsel 2nd time reading this book: Vonnegut’s satire of American aristocracy is as poignant today as I imagine it would’ve been when he wrote it in 1965, perhaps unsurprisingly so, as the type of ‘old money’ ideology he paints in this novel is still the same kind of ‘old money’ ideology that exists today. Written in the earlier half of his catalog, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater occasionally drags its feet when considering Vonnegut’s oeuvre in its totality - but that’s only in comparing him against himself. In general, what I would call a ‘mediocre’ Vonnegut book is still better than 90% of everything else in the library. The humor, social commentary, and story are on point, as always, it just lacks the escalating whimsy/absurdity of my favorite Vonnegut books. What it does do exceedingly well is paint the rich as both the victims and victimizers while parodying the complicated American relationship with philanthropy and money. In the end, there are few writers who can shine a beautiful light on all of humanity’s unflattering angles quite like Kurt Vonnegut can. This book is no exception. Worth a read? ABSOLUTELY, especially in this day and age (circa January, 2017)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    3.5 bumped down to 3 I loved the social commentary in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and, similar to my experience with Cat's Cradle, found it to be a provocative read. Still, other than agreeing with a number of Vonnegut's insights and enjoying his humor, I didn't find myself the least bit invested in the characters. Perhaps this is because Vonnegut's writing style is less exemplary story telling and more witty satire that reads like a cautionary tale/parable. So while his thoughts and ideas ar 3.5 bumped down to 3 I loved the social commentary in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and, similar to my experience with Cat's Cradle, found it to be a provocative read. Still, other than agreeing with a number of Vonnegut's insights and enjoying his humor, I didn't find myself the least bit invested in the characters. Perhaps this is because Vonnegut's writing style is less exemplary story telling and more witty satire that reads like a cautionary tale/parable. So while his thoughts and ideas are worthwhile, this book left me wanting something more. I guess when I read a novel (even a short one with an agenda), I like to feel as if I'm entering the characters' world, and relate to or bond with at least one of the characters (the absurd ones included). Bottom line, while I can appreciate his talents, I'm not sure it's my "thing", or at least not my favorite kind of "thing" to read. Still worthwhile, just not something to get excited over. Will continue to work my way through his writings with Slaugtherhouse-Five next on the list. I think I'll hold my recommendations until I finish the Library of America collection.

  29. 4 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    Hilarious. Bonus: one can read it and laugh without the horrified guilt that hangs over the reading of Mother Night because it is only about the bad stuff we do to poor people and basically nice white people are all in agreement that it's okay to live better at the expense of poor people. I would love to pull bits of this out to show you how funny it is. The scene where Eliot gives money to the poet so that the poet can tell the truth and the poet discovers he has no truth to tell. He only though Hilarious. Bonus: one can read it and laugh without the horrified guilt that hangs over the reading of Mother Night because it is only about the bad stuff we do to poor people and basically nice white people are all in agreement that it's okay to live better at the expense of poor people. I would love to pull bits of this out to show you how funny it is. The scene where Eliot gives money to the poet so that the poet can tell the truth and the poet discovers he has no truth to tell. He only thought he did while he rationalised that poverty prevented him from doing so. Rest here: http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpres...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    In the opening sentence of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the narrator informs the reader that "A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people..." The sum of money is the millions of dollars amassed over generations by the Rosewater family and currently held by the Rosewater Foundation, a charitable organization. Eliot Rosewater, the "Mr. Rosewater" of Vonnegut's title, is the current head of this organization. Much of the plot of the novel involves the efforts on the part of his In the opening sentence of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the narrator informs the reader that "A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people..." The sum of money is the millions of dollars amassed over generations by the Rosewater family and currently held by the Rosewater Foundation, a charitable organization. Eliot Rosewater, the "Mr. Rosewater" of Vonnegut's title, is the current head of this organization. Much of the plot of the novel involves the efforts on the part of his family members and their lawyers to wrest control of the money away from Rosewater. The best way to do this, they agree, is to prove that Eliot Rosewater is insane. A lot of the humor of the novel arises out of the way that Rosewater appears to make his antagonists' case for them, particularly with respect to the methods he employs in effecting the philanthropic mission of the foundation. For unlike other philanthropists who build museums, endow research wings in hospitals, or (as seems increasingly to be the case, particularly in the U.S.), donate to political campaigns, Rosewater sits in his office in Rosewater, Indiana, answering the telephone and listening as callers tell him of their situation, in response to which he writes checks intended to help them in their pursuit of whatever they feel will make them happy. As Rosewater puts it, "I'm going to love these discarded Americans, even though they're useless and unattractive. That is going to be my work of art" (36, italics Vonnegut's). Rosewater's particular form of philanthropy appears to be an extreme application of the slogan "Act locally, think globally," not least because the majority of the beneficiaries of his largesse are citizens of Rosewater. Eliot Rosewater is an absurdist hero whose practice of philanthropy must seem irrational from the perspective of conventional charitable organizations. However, the novel makes clear that Rosewater's philanthropy is motivated by compassion and love, and in this respect it can be read as a challenge to analogous, but more conventional organizations. Rosewater is a kind of Don Quixote tilting at the windmills of capitalism. In terms of narrative style, there is a lot more telling than showing in this novel. Much of the action of the story takes the form of conversations among characters while in meetings or during telephone calls. There are references to moments of action, but rarely are these moments presented directly, through narrative description (one exception to this is a passage rich in visual images describing a scene set on a fishing boat; it seems significant that a page later an onlooker mocks the "three romantics" in the boat). I did not like this one so well as Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five or Breakfast of Champions. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it for its humor and satire, for its intertextuality, for the character of Eliot Rosewater, and for Vonnegut's reminding his readers of the importance of sharing and of being kind to one another.

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