52 Books a Year: #10 - God Bless You Mr. Rosewater

Posted by Brian Fri, 06 Nov 2009 02:37:20 GMT

God Bless You Mr. Rosewater By Kurt Vonnegut


I mentioned yesterday that Mother Night was a book that I liked at first, but then gnawed at me for months until I thought it was amazing. God Bless You Mr. Rosewater took a somewhat opposite course. Reading it is a surreal trip into the line between insanity and charity, but it doesn’t have the same sort of staying power. Or possibly I only have room for long-term thoughts on one Vonnegut novel at a time.

Eliot Rosewater is a wealthy trust-fund child who is struggling to use his money for philanthropy. Norman Mushari, Jr. is a lawyer trying to get rich by weaseling his way into some extended family. Vonnegut is direct, dark, and sarcastic is his writing, milking humor from the worst in human nature and hypocrisy abounds. It never reaches the level of surrealism found in Slaughterhouse-Five, but it never reaches the vileness felt in Breakfast of Champions either. Instead he finds a nice balance between the insanity of Eliot and the gold digging of Mushari.

God Bless you Mr. Rosewater is probably middle-of-the-road in quality as far as Vonnegut novels go, but that is still much better than the best that most authors achieve in their lifetimes. If you haven’t read Vonnegut yet, get started.


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