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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

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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 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.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1965

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About the author

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

522 books32k followers
Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journalist before joining the U.S. Army and serving in World War II.

After the war, he attended University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York in public relations for General Electric. He attributed his unadorned writing style to his reporting work.

His experiences as an advance scout in the Battle of the Bulge, and in particular his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden, Germany whilst a prisoner of war, would inform much of his work. This event would also form the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five, the book which would make him a millionaire. This acerbic 200-page book is what most people mean when they describe a work as "Vonnegutian" in scope.

Vonnegut was a self-proclaimed humanist and socialist (influenced by the style of Indiana's own Eugene V. Debs) and a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The novelist is known for works blending satire, black comedy and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,500 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
August 17, 2020
“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!
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
September 30, 2019
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.

Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,425 reviews3,396 followers
August 12, 2022
“Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil’s foot…” John DonneSong
Sanity and madness… Is there a borderline in between?
In his old letter Eliot Rosewater wrote to his wife:
Maybe I flatter myself when I think that I have things in common with Hamlet, that I have an important mission, that I’m temporarily mixed up about how it should be done. Hamlet had one big edge on me. His father’s ghost told him exactly what he had to do, while I am operating without instructions. But from somewhere something is trying to tell me where to go, what to do there, and why to do it. Don’t worry, I don’t hear voices.

The world is a crazy place… And the ones who are considered to be normal aren’t normal… They’re just a bit less mad…
The ambitious young poet dreamed to tell the world the truth… And sponsored by the Rosewater Foundation he has written a pornographic novel Get with Child a Mandrake Root… So much for the ultimate truth…
All those pretensions of the rich… All that petty charity… All that aplomb… All that hypocrisy…Ignorance and vulgarity… God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
“You’re the man who stands on a street corner with a roll of toilet paper, and written on each square are the words, ‘I love you.’ And each passer-by, no matter who, gets a square all his or her own.”

Lukewarm-hearted sanctimony is the kindness of the wealthy.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
972 reviews17.6k followers
May 22, 2023
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.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
September 6, 2019
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.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews870 followers
March 13, 2022
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter...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.”

Image result for pearls before swine vonnegut

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 personally appear in his own 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. 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

“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.”

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.”
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68.1k followers
June 5, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,385 reviews2,258 followers
June 26, 2022

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 liked 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 almost every page. Nope, I haven't had a bump on the head when I say I much preferred this to Slaughterhouse-Five.
Profile Image for HaMiT.
166 reviews30 followers
March 10, 2021
این دومین کتابی بود که از ونه گات میخوندم و طبق انتظارم یه داستانِ طنز تلخ که بعضی جاها درست و حسابی میخندیدی ولی خب بیشتر جاها طنزش مثل زهر مار بود و دلت میخواست دوش اسید بگیری و زیر دوش به این فکر کنی که این چه وضعیتیه بشر برای خودش و بقیه درست کرده آخه

یکی از چیزهایی که خیلی دوست داشتم نوع شخصیت‌پردازی ونه گات بود. در واقع شخصیت‌ها فقط اسم یا صاحب یه شغل نیستن و از هرکدومشون یه انسان واقعی درآورده و یه پیش زمینه‌ براش نوشته. چه شخصیتی باشه که توی داستان زیاد حضور داره و چه یه خدمتکار دفتر بیمه
و پایان بندی کتاب هم به واقع که معرکه بود و هنوز دارم میخندم و از معرکه بودنش لذت میبرم
برای یه ریویوی کامل پیشنهاد میکنم ریویوی میس مایا رو بخونید که خیلی عالی در مورد کتاب نوشته

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,934 reviews10.6k followers
December 12, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Madeline.
775 reviews47k followers
July 22, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Brian.
689 reviews332 followers
February 9, 2016
"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!
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,560 reviews8,690 followers
March 26, 2016
"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.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,186 followers
October 1, 2021
Another winner from Vonnegut. This one is very funny, more so than perhaps any others I've read of his. Well worth reading for his insights on corporate and personal greed but also because it's fun.

Favourite quotes:

The sound "must have scared Charley Warmergram half out of his secretary".

"E pluribus unum is surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property, privileges, and pleasures that have been denied the many."

"I think it's a heartless government that will let one baby be born owning a big piece of the country, the way I was born, and let another baby be born without owning anything. The least a government could do, it seems to me, is to divide things up fairly among the babies. Life is hard enough, without people having to worry themselves sick about money, too. There's plenty for everybody in this country, if we'll only share more."
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book867 followers
December 13, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
861 reviews2,188 followers
September 8, 2016
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.


The Beatles - "Piggies"

Profile Image for Sandra.
914 reviews249 followers
March 6, 2022
Neanche se l’avessi fatto apposta avrei potuto scegliere una lettura più adatta al momento che stiamo vivendo. Uno scrittore come Vonnegut, che ha scritto sulla guerra parole indimenticabili (cfr. “Mattatoio n. 5”) come
“Non c'è nulla di intelligente da dire su un massacro. Si suppone che tutti siano morti, e non abbiano più niente da dire o da pretendere. Dopo un massacro tutto dovrebbe tacere, e infatti tutto tace, sempre, tranne gli uccelli. E gli uccelli cosa dicono? Tutto quello che c'è da dire su un massacro, cose come "Puu-tii-uiit?"
Ho detto ai miei figli che non devono, in nessuna circostanza, partecipare a un massacro, e che le notizie di massacri compiuti tra i nemici non devono riempirli di soddisfazione o di gioia.

Ho anche detto loro di non lavorare per società che fabbricano congegni in grado di provocare massacri, e di esprimere il loro disprezzo per chi pensa che congegni del genere siano necessari."
Oppure come
"E' un libro contro la guerra?"-"Si,"dissi, "credo.""Sa cosa rispondo quando uno mi dice che sta scrivendo un libro contro la guerra? Dico: perchè non scrive un libro contro i ghiacciai allora?" Quello che voleva dire, naturalmente, era che ci saranno sempre guerre, che impedire una guerra è facile come fermare un ghiacciaio. E lo credo anch'io.”
Da quanto riportato si comprende un poco lo stile dello scrittore: ironico, schietto, dissacrante, superficialmente semplice ma molto profondo. Ugualmente accade in questo breve romanzo, che inserirei tra i capolavori di Vonnegut insieme a Mattatoio n. 5. La sua attenzione è rivolta sempre a tematiche sociali, in questo caso alla realtà economico-sociale americana post seconda guerra mondiale (ma vale anche oggi, tanto è attuale), in cui la discriminazione tra i miliardari che si sono trovati patrimoni in mano senza neanche sapere come, quale è il nostro Eliot Rosewater, protagonista del romanzo, e il resto della popolazione “normale”, fatta di persone sofferenti, in difficoltà, malate, disperate e soprattutto sole ed abbandonate a sé stesse è così forte, è così pesante che soltanto in un modo puoi affrontarla: con la pazzia. Solo un pazzo come Eliot può avere il coraggio e la forza di lottare contro ogni forma di razzismo. Ma non è mica la storia di un eroe questa! Lui non combatte, lui non usa la forza, lui non lotta contro nessuno, lui AMA, ama di un “amore indiscriminato” ogni essere umano, Eliot sa DARE AMORE alle persone fregandosene di riceverne. La sua è una lucida follia? Ci sto pensando da tempo, per colpa di Vonnegut.
Non volevo dare 4 stelle per le ultime due pagine che mi hanno lasciato insoddisfatta, mi aspettavo un finale diverso, mi è parso più un accomodamento. Quindi le stelle sono cinque, ma consideratene 4 e mezzo.
Ma, in ogni caso, da lettrice di lunga data, mi permetto di dare un suggerimento: leggete Vonnegut e non ve ne pentirete….
Profile Image for W.D. Clarke.
Author 3 books257 followers
November 17, 2022
Not quite as transplendent as I seem to have remembered it, but still pretty fab, if unbelievably (albeit often hilariously so) despairing.

A fittting nadir for downward-sloping first quadrant of that psychomachia of a career that, to me, the books of Mr. Vonnegut trace...to be only ever-so-slightly mitigated (maybe?) by the "So it goes" attempted stoicism of Slaughterhouse-Five ...

...We shall see: I plan on re-reading the next five or so novels in 2023!
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,135 followers
March 5, 2021
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?
Profile Image for Melki.
5,807 reviews2,343 followers
September 27, 2013
"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."
Profile Image for Jean-Luke.
Author 1 book384 followers
May 29, 2023
Sigh. If only the story of a man with more money than God was more relevant in the world today. Oh wait--if only the story of a man with more money than God was less relevant in the world today. If only. This is the story about one such man, Eliot Rosewater, going insane (having a crisis of conscience?) Any lawyer would call it a misguided outburst of saintliness.

I hate these men in real life--whether of the orange or Martian doughboy variety--and yet somehow Kurt Vonnegut has managed to make Eliot Rosewater endearing. Unlike with many of his books this isn't the here's-the-protagonist's-life-story kind, and half of it is actually concerned with Eliot's have-not relation, Fred Rosewater.

The book flirts with the epistolary form, and sent me down a rabbit hole on the pronounciation of various New England place names (my favorite is Leominster, pronounced Lem-in-ster). I've said this before but I'll say it again--this is my new favorite Vonnegut. It has aged remarkably well--it might have been published yesterday--but how disgusting that Republican politicians are still whistling exactly the same tired tune.
Profile Image for Jim.
1,128 reviews66 followers
December 9, 2022
I've been a long-time fan of Kurt Vonnegut ( born in Indianapolis, IN November 11, 1922 and died in New York City April 11, 2007)--but I had never read this one, published in 1965. It's the story of Eliot Rosewater, president of the incredibly wealthy Rosewater Foundation. He's considered insane--but he has a very sane vision of society.
Another brilliant satire of our society in which Vonnegut takes aim at human follies.
Interestingly, Rosewater was involved in WWII--like Billy Pilgrim in "Slaughterhouse-5" (and Vonnegut himself) and war had its effect on the rest of Rosewater's life. And there's a brief appearance by that wacky sci-fi writer, Kilgore Trout... But, as much as I enjoyed this one, I feel it's not one of the stronger of Vonnegut's books. I still prefer "Slaughterhouse-5" (1969), "Mother Night" (1961), and "Cat's Cradle" (1963) as my favorites. But, hey--it's Vonnegut!
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,496 reviews961 followers
October 13, 2022

“May I ask you a highly personal question?”
“It’s what life does all the time.”

Mr Rosewater, a young man who returns from World War II with a useless purple heart and a crippling depression, would like to ask the reader what he thinks about this world we’re living in? Is it heading in the right direction?
And, if your answer is No, what are you going to do about it?

Eliot Rosewater is in a position to do something about the world: he is the president of a Foundation established by his family in order to shield their millions of dollars from the tax men. How those millions were made in the first place is another question that the older Rosewaters would rather escape scrutiny, but when Eliot starts distributing the money to the poor and the afflicted, an opportunistic lawyer named Norman Mushari sees a chance to grab some of the pot by declaring Eliot incompetent and mentally insane.

A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.

The theory that money corrupts society is the first half of the equation, illustrated by Vonnegut here in numerous rants, starting with the Rosewater Family Gospel about their rise to power by exploiting legal tricks and by large scale corruption, fascist speeches on the Senate floor about the Golden Age of Rome or by extensive slurping at the Money Tree.

Enlightened Self-Interest gives them a flag, which they adore on sight. It is essentially the black and white Jolly Roger, with these words written beneath the skull and crossbones, “The hell with you, Jack, I’ve got mine!”

Senator Rosewater could be easily imagined today as one of the leaders of the Republican Party: “I have spent my life demanding that people blame themselves for their misfortunes.”

Vonnegut is a writer who came to the genre of science-fiction not because it pays the bills with escapist tales of adventure, but because it is, in his opinion, the only honest way to debate the future of a humanity hell bent on self-destruction. He shares in this opinion with my favourite Ray Bradbury quote: seeing what is wrong in the world, he exclaims, To hell with more of the same, I want better!
In the novel, these ideas are presented in a speech Eliot Rosewater gives at a science-fiction convention [ “I love you sons of bitches,” Eliot said in Milford. “You’re all I read any more. ] and, for the first time in his catalogue, by the author’s alter ego Kilgore Trout, a prolific if obscure writer whose work can only be found in second hand bins at pornographic shops.

... your insistence that the truth be told about this sick, sick society of ours, and that the words for the telling could be found on the walls of restrooms can also be heard in a Simon and Garfunkel song about words of the prophets being written on subway walls.

But this expose is only the first half of the equation, as I already mentioned. Investigative journalism was supposed to do the same, before it succumbed to political pressure and internet trivia. It is left to Kilgore Trout, Eliot Rosewater and other ‘pixilated’ dreamers to come up with solutions:

Trout’s favorite formula was to describe a perfectly hideous society, not unlike his own, and then, towards the end, to suggest ways in which it could be improved.

Eliot Rosewater, heir to an obscene pile of honey-money, leaves his Park Avenue mansion, his expensive art collection and his expensive wife, and starts to roam around America, riding on fire engines and getting to know the ‘real’ people. He finally settles in Rosewater County, Indiana, a backwater place filled with the destitute folks left behind by the march for progress, as sung by the older Rosewaters.

‘I’m going to care about these people.”
“I’m going to love these discarded Americans, even though they’re useless and unattractive. That is going to be my work of art.”

For this, his peers on the banks of the Money River are ready to declare Eliot insane and a danger to society. He must be pixilated!
Renowned psychiatrists have even come out with a new disease to describe this aberration:

samaritrophia is only a disease, and a violent one, too, when it attacks those exceedingly rare individuals who reach biological maturity still loving and wanting to help their fellow men.


I have used that P word twice already, so maybe I should explain why: although it is never mentioned in the novel, the plot and the main characters are very similar to the story of Longfellow Deeds, the Cinderella Man from Frank Capra’s Depression Era comedy. In that movie, a yokel from the back country who likes to play the tuba, writes poetry for Hallmark cards and rides on fire trucks, inherits a huge sum of money that soon attracts a lot of Wall Street sharks and lawyers to his New York abode. Like Eliot, Longfellow Deeds is a common sense guy who decides the money will be better spent helping the victims of the Depression, and by this I don’t mean the bankers who caused it in the first place.

It's like I'm out in a big boat, and I see one fellow in a rowboat who's tired of rowing and wants a free ride, and another fellow who's drowning. Who would you expect me to rescue? Mr. Cedar - who's just tired of rowing and wants a free ride? Or those men out there who are drowning? Any ten year old child will give you the answer to that.

And, like Eliot, Mr. Deeds will be accused of being insane for being charitable, with lawyers trying to take away his fortune.
The solution is basically the same, for both Kurt Vonnegut and Frank Capra:

What puzzles me is why people seem to get so much pleasure out of hurting each other. Why don't they try liking each other once in a while? [Deeds]

“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” [Eliot]


This is the novel written a few years before the author became famous with ‘Slaughterhouse Five’, at a time when he was still struggling both financially and in his emotional life. A lot of the major themes that will return in Vonnegut future novels are introduced here: Kilgore Trout and the purpose of science-fiction, the senseless destruction of the war as witnessed by Eliot in a clarinet factory in Bavaria, the toxicity of the American Dream that was hijacked by ‘sparrowfarts’, the alien observers of human folly from distant galaxies, the little bird who knows the answer is ‘Poo-tee-weet’.[I think the bird already appeared in Cat’s Cradle, though]
Also apparent here is the experimental nature of the writing, still in search of the best mode of expression for the core ideas the author wants to convey:

Maybe I flatter myself when I think that I have things in common with Hamlet, that I have an important mission, that I’m temporarily mixed up about how it should be done. Hamlet had one big edge on me. His father’s ghost told him exactly what he had to do, while I am operating without instructions.

The random nature of the narrative thread allows for a lot of parentheses and side quest, as well as some very sharp barbs thrown at the ‘sickness’ of people like the poor relatives of the Rosewaters in Maine. I have discarded about half my notes from the book in order to make the review manageable and coherent [hopefully], but I still have a few gems that I want to keep in memory:

Heaven is the bore of bores, Eliot’s novel went on, so most wraiths queue up to be reborn – and they live and love and fall and die, and they queue up to be reborn again. They take pot luck, as the saying goes. They don’t gibber and squeak to be one race or another, one sex or another, one nationality or another, one class or another. What they want and what they get are three dimensions – and comprehensible little packets of time – and enclosures making possible the crucial distinction between inside and outside.

The author is considered from a religious point of view an atheist, but I prefer the term ‘humanist’ – the same I use in my own census poll – because he still cares about human beings and believes we have a future as a species, despite massive evidence to the contrary.

He also believes in love, physical rather than spiritual, as a vehicle for the salvation of a soul. Kilgore Trout, as well as another budding writer sponsored by Eliot, are accused of pornography, but the half page paragraph from ‘Venus on the Half Shell’ has actually inspired another writer to come up with his own science-fiction novel [don’t bother! I tried it and was unimpressed by Philip Jose Farmer there. Stick to the original Vonneguts]

The author was going through a painful divorce at the time he wrote this, which makes the love letters and the poetry included in the novel even more poignant:

‘I’m a painter in my dreams, you know,
Or maybe you didn’t know. And a sculptor.
Long time no see.
And a kick to me
Is the interplay of materials
And these hands of mine.
And some of the things I would do to you
Might surprise you.’

A scene of Eliot returning by bus to Indianapolis, birthplace of Vonnegut himself, will return with a vengeance in his very next novel:
He was astonished to see that the entire city was being consumed by a firestorm. He had never seen a firestorm, but he had certainly read and dreamed about many of them.

Another tome written by Kilgore Trout is ‘The Pan Galactic Three-Day Pass’ , about information, how we get it and about how we process it. The internet and the social media firestorm were still things of the future when the novel was written, but that is why we have science-fiction writers: they see the writing on the wall earlier and clearer that the rest of us, they warn us and even come up with solutions.

Mental telepathy, with everybody constantly telling everybody everything, produced a sort of generalized indifference to all information. But language, with its slow, narrow meanings, made it possible to think about one thing at a time – to start thinking in projects.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.7k followers
September 20, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Fateme.
92 reviews156 followers
September 16, 2017
تصویر، کاملا، تصویری از آمریکاست. از ثروت‌های عجیب و غریب در چند سانتی‌متری فقرهای عجیب‌تر. اما یکی از رزواترها دلش به جای پول و ادامه دادن راهِ ثروت‌اندوزی که بعد از نسل‌ها، کار چندان سختی هم نیست، چیزهای دیگری می‌خواهد. اما قضیه مگر به همین سادگی‌ست؟ حتماً خلی چیزی شده. داستان، روایت‌های گوناگون از این دیوانگی‌ست.
شخصیت‌ها، تند و بی‌مهابا وارد می‌شوند. من کمی ترسیدم ولی شما نترسید؛ به اندازه‌ی کافی یادتان می‌مانند.

یادداشتی برای ناشر: انگار بالاجبار بدترین طراح جلد دنیا را دارید.
Profile Image for Maya .
109 reviews18 followers
April 5, 2020
سلام بچه ها، به زمین خوش آمدید. اینجا تابستان ها هوا گرم است و زمستان ها هوا سرد است. زمین گرم است و خیس و پُر از جمعیت. روی این سیاره، شما حدوداً صد سالی زندگی میکنید، حالا یا یک کمی بیشتر یا یک کمی کمتر. من فقط یک قانون در مورد اینجا میدانم بچه ها... آن هم این است که شما باید، محض رضای خدا، مهربان باشید

شاید توی وجود همه ی ما یه اِلیوت رُزواتر پیدا بشه، حتی اگه همیشه هم خودش رو نشون نده، گاهی ممکنه احساسش کنیم. یه وقتایی حس میکنیم نسبت به جهان اطرافـمون مسئولیم ولی اونقدر که لازمه از پسِ این مسئولیت برنیومدیم. اینکه شاید... یا حتما کارِ بیشتری ازمون برمیاد که برای بقیه انجام بدیم. اِلیوت در برابر این احساس گناه راهی رو انتخاب میکنه که نسبت به شیوه ی تفکر و منطق انسان مدرن، خیلی عجیب و غریب به نظر میاد. اون هم این که بدون هیچ چشم داشتی تموم وقت و پول و زندگیش رو در اختیار دیگران بذاره. البته این پول ارثیه ی باد آورده ایه که بهش رسیده و تقریباً برای به دست آوردنش هیچ کاری نکرده اما تصمیم میگیره به جای هر کارِ دیگه ای که میشه با این پول کرد، اون رو برای دیگران خرج کنه. پس فرقی نمیکنه کی باشین و چه مشکلی داشته باشین، هر کجا که هستین، هر ساعتی از روز میتونین تلفن رو بردارین و به دفتر محقرش زنگ بزنید تا این جمله ی معروف رو بشنوین "بنیاد رُزواتر، چطور میتونم کمکتون کنم؟" اشتباه نکنین، تلاش های الیوت برای کمک به بقیه، محدود به کمک مالی نمیشه. اتفاقا شاید بشه گفت بیشترین سخاوتمندی الیوت توی این باشه که "خودش" رو تمام و کمال در اختیار دیگران قرار میده. اون ساعت ها بهتون گوش میده، هیچ وقت قضاوت نمیکنه، سرزنش هم نمیکنه. اگه هیچ کاری هم از دستـش برنیاد، حداقل بهتون توجه میکنه. طوری که انگار بخشی از وجود خودش هستین. طوری که انگار هیچ فرقی با همدیگه ندارین. حتی اگه قصد و هدفِ الیوت این نباشه، پیش مردم اون منطقه ی فقیر نشین خیلی محبوب میشه. از زن و مرد و بچه، همه بهش احترام میذارن و روش حساب میکنن. حتی کسایی که اولش به دیده ی تحقیر نگاهش میکنن. کی حاضره همچنین کاری بکنه؟ یه بچه پولدار که عقلش رو از دست داده؟ هیچکدوم از این حرف ها برای الیوت مهم نیستن. اون با تمام وجود به کاری که میکنه باور داره. توی وجود اون یه "موهبت" یا از دید خیلی ها یه "نفرین" هست، اونم اینه که بیش از حد معمول غم دیگران رو درک میکنه و ن��بت بهشون احساس مسئولیت میکنه. طبیعیه که روش زندگی الیوت، عواقبی هم به همراه داره و نویسنده به اندازه ی کافی باهوش هست که از اون ها چشم پوشی نکنه. رُزواتر جوان توی زندگی خانوادگیش به مشکلات زیادی میخوره و توسط خیلی ها طرد میشه، یه سری افراد سودجو هم براش نقشه میکشن که تموم ثروت خانوادگی رو از چنگش دربیارن. کسایی هستن که میخوان ثابت کنن اون از یه مشکل روانی رنج میبره و ممکنه این هم تا اندازه ای درست باشه و چیزی نیست که الیوت ازش آگاهی نداشته باشه.
اما آیا این به این معنیه که تموم کارهای الیوت فقط به این علت که از دیدگاه عموم پذیرفته شده نیست، دیوانگی محضه؟ آیا کسی میتونه تا مرز جنون مهربونی کنه؟ و حتی اگه الیوت یه ساده دلِ دیوانه باشه، کسی میتونه جلوی این انتخاب بزرگـش رو بگیره؟
اولین کتابی بود که از کورت ونه گات خوندم و عاشق قلم و طنازیش شدم. بینامتنیت زیادی توی این کتاب هست که خیلی هاش به آثار دیگه ی خود آقای ونه گات اشاره داره، طبیعتاً خوشحال تر میشدم اگه خودم این اشاره ها رو درک میکردم و نیازی به مطالعه ی پانویس و غیره نبود ولی در حدی نیست که متن این کتاب رو ناخوشایند کنه. مفاهیم اجتماعی سیاسی زیادی توی کتاب مطرح میشن و این سوال مهم که آیا دوست داشتنِ دیگران باید با توجه به سودی باشه (چه سود مالی و چه عاطفی) که در اختیار ما قرار میدن یا بدون شرط و شروط؟ جالب ترین نکته درباره ی شیوه ی داستان پردازی این نویسنده، حداقل توی این رمان، اینه که کاملاً روراست و مستقیم حرف هایی که میخواد بزنه رو مینویسه، ولی این باعث نمیشه احساس کنیم میخواد بهمون از بالا نگاه کنه و نصیحتمون کنه. حتی اگه قرار باشه درسی بده، به قول معروف توی ذوق نمیزنه. قطعاً بیشتر سراغش میرم و از الان تبدیل به یکی از نویسنده های موردعلاقم شده. در ضمن، این ترجمه بسیار خوب و روان بود.
Profile Image for James Tingle.
149 reviews8 followers
March 17, 2020

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...
Profile Image for Brett C(urrently overseas again).
784 reviews168 followers
May 2, 2021
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!
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