Eliot Rosewater, a drunk volunteer fireman and president of the fabulously rich Rosewater Foundation, is about to attempt a noble experiment with human nature, with a little help from writer Kilgore Trout. The result is Kurt Vonnegut's funniest satire, an etched-in-acid portrayal of the greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh we are all heir to.
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©1965 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"[Vonnegut] at his wildest best!" (The New York Times Book Review)
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
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've only got two big rules with my two babies. # 1 be happy, # 2 be kind. Everything else is negotable, babies.
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 and kindness and sanity. Vonnegut's novel (subtitled '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 (by lawyers) or protected (by family).
In some ways, in its heart, 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.
I focus mainly on History, Endurance Sports and Science/Speculative Fiction books.
The Money Shot
Vonnegut has so many classic situations in his stories, that not only make you laugh but cry at the same time so its tough. But I would say when Rosewater comes to a moment of clarity at the end of the novel it really pulls the story together in a profound way. You may not like his response, but you must admit that it solidifies his narrative.
Rosewater. The images of him living day to day in squalor but being so happy and helping others was well done. "How Can We Help You"....terrific.
The woman who called Rosewater up every day was my favorite for some reason. She was the average person who struggles to deal with life, the fact that Rosewater took time for her sums up the treatise of the novel. The everyday contains magical qualities that can never be overlooked, being kind to people is always a good investment.
Its almost impossible to review Vonnegut, who is my view is the most over looked and under rated American novelist ever. He wrote some of the best books in the American literary tradition. This book, though dated in some respects is timeless in others. I can understand why some people don't like his work, but if you do you owe it to yourself to listen to this well produced thoughtful version.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
I think Kurt Vonnegut is one of the best authors of the 20th Century. Love his work although I would have to say this is not his best, it isn't bad either. I like his characters but the situation in this book is a little pedestrian for my liking.
The enjoyment is in the journey in this book. The ending isn't bad but nothing to 'knock your socks off'.
When you get into the characters thinking is when this book really excels.
Read another Kurt Vonnegut book, I recommend 'Slaughterhouse Five'.
Eric Michael Summerer is fantastic with his characters accents and personalities. Vonnegut's writing is excellent, but this book is not his best work. Listen to it as part of his complete works, not as an example.
Yes, it is clever and examines the role of money our lives in a very personal, yet detached manner. It is an interesting book. It is not sci-fi fyi sort of a social commentary.
Hearing about Diana Moon Glampers.
No. He read it most excellently, a joy to hear.
Sort of, I listened to it twice! It sort of gets to you.
Unusual book, sort of like Citizen Kane, a made up tale of America, so we can learn about ourselves.
I liked this story but I think I would have enjoyed it more (especially the irony and black humor) I'd i had read it rather than listened to not here.
As I listened to this story I felt as if I had found the source of humor for a number of more modern works, eg Hitchhikers Guide. The reading performance was subtle and evocative.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
"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." So begins Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s comical and moving autopsy of America, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965). Focusing on American wealth and poverty and winners and losers, Vonnegut introduces us to middle-aged Eliot Rosewater, heir to the massive Rosewater fortune. Eliot has been using his position as president of the Rosewater Foundation to help everyone who needs help in his small hometown of Rosewater, Indiana, answering the phone 24 hours a day, "Rosewater Foundation. How can we help you?" and giving emotional and/or financial comfort to anyone on the other end of the line. Although his ability to love "the little people," no matter how useless, criminal, or cracked, evokes a "God bless you, Mr. Rosewater" from the likes of the "ugly, boring, and stupid" spinster Diana Moon Glampers, it does not sit well with his free-enterprise loving, pubic-hair hating, die-hard republican Senator father, separates him from his loving but more human wife Sylvia, wins him nicknames like "The Nut," "The Saint," and "John the Baptist" from the workers at the law firm handling the Rosewater fortune, and earns him a weaselly sniper of a foe in the young lawyer Norman Mushari, who "slaveringly" thinks it will be easy to prove Eliot is insane and thus gain control of the Rosewater fortune by transferring it to a distant branch of the family living in Pisquontuit, Rhode Island.
Vonnegut caustically and amusingly details how American fortunes are made, how tabloid publications and deodorant advertising influence us, and how rich people tend to think poor people should be hard working and thankful. He introduces Eliot's distant cousin Fred as an ironic foil, depicting him as a life insurance salesman who guilts his male clients into "providing" for their wives ("brides") by buying life insurance and then when the men die receives his own "God bless you, Mr. Rosewater" from their widows. Vonnegut also makes Fred sympathetic by virtue of his being the son of a suicide ("Sons of suicides seldom do well") married to "a female chameleon trying to get ahead in the world."
Throughout the novel, Vonnegut relishes making fun of people rich and poor by exposing their physical and mental defects. This is usually funny but does at times verge on the mean-spirited or unfair (as in his depiction of the tall homosexual restauranteur Bunny Weeks, who has "eyes that were standard equipment for rich American fairies. . . junk jewelry eyes")
Throughout, Vonnegut delights in vivid and humorous descriptions. After a year in a sanitarium, Eliot looks like "an emaciated, feverish middle-aged boy. . . F. Scott Fitzgerald with one day to live." And the prolific and poor science fiction author Kilgore Trout, whose several book synopses read like Vonnegut's inner sf geek freed, celebrated, and mocked, looks when bearded "like a frightened, aging Jesus whose sentence to crucifixion had been commuted to imprisonment for life" and when shaven like "a kindly country undertaker."
Vonnegut also writes neat pithy lines like, "The most exquisite pleasure in the practice of medicine comes from nudging a layman in the direction of terror, then bringing him back to safety again."
One sign of the complexity of Vonnegut's satire of the "Money River" flowing through America, a small minority being born and living on its banks, the vast majority never knowing where it is, is that he inserts a minor character, Lincoln Ewald, who hates America because in it money is king (so far so good), but who is also an ardent Nazi sympathizer (ouch!). Another sign of its complexity is that there is an uncomfortable truth in Senator Rosewater's belief that if like Eliot you love everyone equally you cannot love anyone particularly, and love becomes like identical pieces of toilet paper. The anchor to hang onto amid the complexity and bitter humor MAY lie in Kilgore Trout's explanation of Eliot's behavior as an experiment to see if it's possible to love useless people: "We must find ways to love people who have no use," because "people can use all the uncritical love they can get" and because if we don't do it, "we might as well rub them out," and "if one man can do it, others can."
Vonnegut extends the meaning of his novel beyond the boundaries of America to human nature via riffs on things like the appalling allied firebombing of Dresden (and its effect on Eliot) and on an orgy of fish gaffing and braining by some Pisquontuit fishermen, leaving them "as satisfied with life as men can ever be."
The reader Eric Michael Summerer does a convincing Senator Rosewater delivering a speech admiring Augustan Rome, a fine orphan girl expressing her true feelings about her wealthy, ignorant, and arrogant masters, an uncanny grackle-voiced Lincoln Ewald saying, "Heil Hitler," a great bird singing, "Poo-tee-weet," and of course a convincingly cheerful, saintly, insanely sane and loving Eliot Rosewater.
In this novel Vonnegut works on the banks of the Twain River of sweet, hopeful, bitter, humorous American misanthropy.
Very good Vonnegut. An interesting and funny view of the insanity of over the top liberalism and conservatism. Great characters. Well read: appropriate voice changes by character which added humor.
Witty, Kooky, Interesting
I had to start the book twice, and really listen to catch the initial premise of the book, but I was glad I did. The story is a great look at the role of money and charity in our society. I love that Vonnegut is unafraid to show the silly, ridiculous, and sometime vulgar side of humanity to illustrate an actually beautiful idea.
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