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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel [Paperback]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 8 1998

Eliot Rosewater—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. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater 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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Review

“[Vonnegut] at his wildest best.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A brilliantly funny satire on almost everything.”—Conrad Aiken

“[Vonnegut was] our finest black humorist. . . . We laugh in self-defense.”—The Atlantic Monthly

From the Publisher

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is a comic masterpice. Eliot Rosewater, 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 Vonnegut's funniest satire, an etched-in-acid portrayal of the greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh we are all heir to. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not his best, but it's clearly Vonnegut April 11 2003
By Jeni P
Format:Paperback
Okay, so God Bless You... may not be the the best thing Vonnegut's ever written, but Vonnegut on an off day is still well worth reading. This book has all his trademarks, from biting social commentary and blazing satire to dark humor and quirky characters. It's a speedy read that will make you both laugh and wince by turns. Don't make it the first Vonnegut book you read -- for that, I'd suggest Slaughterhouse 5 -- but if you're a fan give it a whirl.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Never Out of Date Nov. 12 2002
By L. Dann
Format:Paperback
Eliot Rosewater is a fat and mediocre minded do-gooder. What makes him extraordinary is that he has the means, through the Rosewater foundation, to dole out money to anyone who requests a bit. In his home town of Rosewater, Indiana, where he has returned like the prodigal mad citizen, he ignores society, purchases an enormous fire alarm, bankrolls the fire company and personally answers 24 hour calls over two telephones- one for assistance and the other for fire emergencies. He has different composures, voices and rules for each. The cranks who phone him for money are old drunken, ugly spinsters, none too clean or honorable town 'handymen,' and his father, the famous Senator Rosewater; whom seeing his son, shrieks at God, for having handed him this vale of tears. Elliott drinks too much, cannot father an heir and has driven his otherwise loving wife to a arsonist's breakdown. She torched the Fire Company.
Eliott has no grand plan of philanthropy, not even a cause, unless the volunteer firemen and their work count. He has a quasi Buddhist detachment from hatred as well as wealth and status. Plenty of people, especially the evil Norman Mushari, are out to filch his millions and crucify his reputation in the meantime.

The book examines the Rosewater mutation whereby every couple of generations, a male is born with no aspiration. No desire to scratch and claw or otherwise greedily grasp power from others.
Vonnegut's thematic puncturing of capitalism, European fatuousness and the nature of success and failure is showcased with the also unseemly nature of the non-wealthy and unsuccessful. Mushari goes face to face with the God of most of Vonnegut's cosmology- Kilgore Trout, science fiction writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Sept. 12 2002
Format:Paperback
There was something in Vonnegut's first rush of books that is lacking in his later novels. Although I enjoy his later books and for the life of me I can't say what this mystery quality is, whatever it is it tends to elevate even his minor books into affairs that are far more memorable than they tend to be. Maybe because the themes and images he's using here were new to him and he was still comparitively young . . . I don't know. It's not for me to say. This novel has a simple premise and a simple plot and moves unsurprisingly from point A to point B and yet I still have an incredibly enjoyable experience reading it, even though I finished it basically on my lunch break over the course of maybe an hour and a half. The premise then is that Eliot Rosewater has a lot of love to give to the world and spends most of his time doing very nice things for people who are almost pathetic enough to not deserve it, simply because he was born rich and feels he has a lot to give to the world. A lawyer, meanwhile wishes to prove that he is insane and has it in him to make quite the case. The book basically waffles back and forth between the lives of the various people Eliot helps, the comically depressing lives of some of these people, a little Rosewater family history and the lawyer's attempt to gather information on Eliot's apparent insanity. All of these pieces don't cohere into the great whole that his absolute best books (like Slaughterhouse-Five) do, but the pieces themselves are great fun and Vonnegut's humanity has never been as apparent here. It doesn't have the grim central event like the bombing of Dresden to put everything in context but somehow he manages to make the book moving and hilarious at the same time. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pearls before swine Jan. 5 2002
Format:Paperback
This book, which has been touted as a "brilliant satire on almost everything", is, in fact, one of Vonnegut's second-rate novels. It is perhaps his most pessimistic, cynical, darkest book of them all. It's also different from the majority of his work in that it is fairly straight-forwardly written; it doesn't jump around on narrative detours like most of his books do. The story is told in fairly linear fashion. It is certainly a good book, and a nice, quick read (like all Vonnegut, it has that indescrible weird factor - not suspense, in the typical fashion - that keeps you reading it); it's just that it doesn't have that Great Underlying Moral like his best books do. The book's main character is Eliot Rosewater (undoubtedly a familar persona to Vonnegut fans), and he gives in this book - to everybody - what seemingly no one is willing to give these days: unconditional love. In turn for this, he is spit on by the world. This book says, in typical Vonnegut candor, Help people; you won't be appreciated for it, and you will probably even be ridiclued, but do it, anyway. It also says, Most people don't deserve help - they are worthless, useless, and stupid - but do it, anyway. Also, this book is a sharp-toothed satire of the American welfare system. Vonnegut's view of welfare echoes mine: it was a good idea to start out with, but its usefulness has passed. People who don't need it are milking it shamelessly, and the time has come to drastically re-organize it, or dispense with it alltogether. Vonnegut also tackles the issue of inherited wealth, and all forms of riches you earn by birthright, or other similar cirumstances, without actually earning yourself. Of course, this inevitably raises the subject of Communism. This book has a lot of interesting ideas, and points, but they are never brought together into that single, incredible cohesive whole, like they are in his best books. Certainly, it is a worthy read for fans; others, however, would be wise to start elsewhere.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Vonnegut book, and I've read 12 of them...
This book is a pearl. Those who did not give it a positive review called it "slow" or "underdeveloped." These are valid opinions, and you might be right in describing it as such. Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2007 by W. Dravenstadt
2.0 out of 5 stars eccentric, naive, and often rather dull
After greatly enjoying some Vonnegut sci-fi, I was perhaps looking for the wrong thing with this book. Read more
Published on May 26 2004 by Robert J. Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars another hit for vonnegut
this book was fabulous.. just like everything else that i've read by him. this book had great charaters, plot and voice. this is definitely a book worth reading.
Published on Aug. 18 2003 by Jared M. Thomasson
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
This book takes an interesting look as the simbiotic relationship between a town and its benefactor. Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Pearls Before Swine
Eliot Rosewater is giving away his money (and love and attention) to deserving people... and some maybe not so deserving. This proves he is crazy. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2002 by g4cube
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
As a huge vonnegut fan, I was very upset to find that this book had a badly developed plot, uninteresting characters, and an almost tragic lack of all the things that make a... Read more
Published on Dec 18 2002 by S. Bell
4.0 out of 5 stars short and to the...well...not the point...but something
vonnegut is addictive
his choice little phrases, and witty little quips, make well worth, reading a book which is not to par with his others. Read more
Published on April 24 2002 by "tonetwelve"
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
This isn't one of Vonnegut's best, but like every other Vonnegut book I have read, it is extremely entertaining and fun to read. Read more
Published on April 12 2002 by "devilm"
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Vonnegut's best, but a good book.
GOD BLESS YOU MR.ROSEWATER was a fun book to read but it went nowhere! Until I got to the last page, I was waiting for something exciting to happen but that excitement never... Read more
Published on March 12 2002 by Rudy Horn
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Vonnegut's best, but a good book.
GOD BLESS YOU MR. ROSEWATER was a fun book to read bit it went nowhere! Until I got to the last I was waiting for something exciting to happen, but that excitement never came. Read more
Published on March 12 2002 by Rudy Horn
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