This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1965 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"[Vonnegut] at his wildest best!" (The New York Times Book Review)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
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 work full time in Financial Services, teach part time, listen to music (a lot) and love Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction.
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.
I just couldn't get "into" this book. I wanted to try to read (listen) to my first Vonnegut novel to see why he is so popular. I really hated this book!
I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.
Another brilliant book by Vonnegut, this book is hysterical and complete satire on a rich family and the people they are associated with. All of which are pretty nutty in their own way.
"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."
This book speaks perfectly to our times. Poor people "earn" money while rich people "make" money. Money is a fiction we all buy into, without realizing the game is rigged.
The topic of this book serves as a satirical commentary on American capitalism and the place that money - and the people who have it - hold within society. It is a theme worthy of exploration, but this book lacks the typical spot-on punch of Vonnegut's best work. The message still gets through and in a fairly entertaining fashion, but it falls short of ensuring a lasting impression.
Summerer's narration irritated me at first, but I soon warmed to him. His voice contains a gleeful irony that is perfect for Eliot Rosewater's particular brand of "madness."
Vonnegut seems to invoke the "love it or leave it" reaction and there are not many people who sit in the middle. I'll confess up front: I like his style and his social commentary, as the latter is usually spot on.
I can fully understand how his style would be too slow and detailed for some. This work in particular seems "over described". As well, in true Vonnegut fashion, the book contains tangential mini-stories that don't seem to have a reason in the larger construct. Many readers will be left scratching their head and asking "what the heck was that all about"?
So, give this a shot if you like Vonnegut. If you've never experienced his work, I recommend you start with some of his other more well know works (Slaughter house Five, Catch 22, etc.).
This novel touches on something ineffable about the value of people, and raises the question of, well, just what are they for? I pair this work with Player Piano in Vonnegut's prescient inquiry about a future he didn't quite live to see.
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