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5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated
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...
Published on Sept. 12 2002 by Michael Battaglia

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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
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...
Published on April 11 2003 by Jeni P


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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 (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (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4.0 out of 5 stars Never Out of Date, Nov. 12 2002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 "adhdmom" (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (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. The book is part of the canon of this icon of an author and as such, I recommend it highly to one and all. The time when I first read it, was a time when I still found drunks a riot and even the smallest attack upon the status quo enormously satisfying. We are no longer that naive and yet the lessons and the funniness of just about everything can never be dated.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated, Sept. 12 2002
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This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (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. The plot of course is slight and it's a fairly direct book, though the ending is about as abrupt as can be (and is mentioned in a later Vonnegut book I think, fortunately I forgot about it). This won't ever be regarded as one of his classics but even a minor work by an author working at his peak is worth another look and while the rewards here may not be as grand, they're simple and pleasant in their own small way.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pearls before swine, Jan. 5 2002
By 
Bill R. Moore (New York, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (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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3.0 out of 5 stars Laying on the layers, Aug. 4 2001
By 
Tom Bruce (East Moriches, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (Paperback)
Reading "God bless you, Mr. Rosewater" is like competing in a mental exercise with Kurt Vonnegut, but he's cheating, because all the controls are on his side of the table. There is a plot to Rosewater, though not one of much substance. But the characters, so many and of such wide scope. And Vonnegut keeps adding more and laying on bits and pieces of story asides. You keep thinking you know where the author is taking you, only to find out you are totally wrong. The narrator of this entire tale is introdced in the second half. It's not the author, it's...well...read it and ponder. And then when you think you have the story line figured out and where the character of the narrator fits in, the book does a 180 and you're wrong again. It's a triste on greed, the haves and the have not, and the saintliness of firefighters. There are U.S. Senators, lesbians, teenage smut peddlars, murderers, life insurance salesmen, and Kilgore Trout. None of it makes sense, and all of it makes sense. Oh, the way I heard the saying was, "It's no disgrace to be poor, just damn unhandy."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read the book again after 20 years, Oct. 9 2000
I just finished reading this book for the first time since I was in college - and I am 43 now. It is much different than I remember it. Being a book about money and distribution of same, it is natural and right that I would see it much differently now, after being emeshed for years in the workaday capitalistic world, than when I was an idealistic college student. However, having said that, I wonder how much of the book REALLY is about money, and how much of it is really about pride, humanitarianism, and being a friend. Elliot Rosewater simply wants the world to be a better place. He does not really deceive himself into thinking that money itself is a cureall - he seems to understand that charity, in and of itself, is not the answer. Self respect and holding one's head up is. Is Elliot really crazy? Heck, yes! But just because he's crazy does not mean that all of his ideas and thoughts are insane. Like most of Vonnegut's books, this is a fable - you could pick it apart all day if you like on the facts and the contradictions - but that would not diminish it. It is a fine fable, and contains many truths. It's a good book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Laying on the layers, Aug. 4 2001
By 
Tom Bruce (East Moriches, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (Paperback)
Reading "God bless you, Mr. Rosewater" is like competing in a mental exercise with Kurt Vonnegut, but he's cheating, because all the controls are on his side of the table. There is a plot to Rosewater, though not one of much substance. But the characters, so many and of such wide scope. And Vonnegut keeps adding more and laying on bits and pieces of story asides. You keep thinking you know where the author is taking you, only to find out you are totally wrong. The narrator of this entire tale is introdced in the second half. It's not the author, it's...well...read it and ponder. And then when you think you have the story line figured out and where the character of the narrator fits in, the book does a 180 and you're wrong again. It's a triste on greed, the haves and the have not, and the saintliness of firefighters. There are U.S. Senators, lesbians, ..., murderers, life insurance salesmen, and Kilgore Trout. None of it makes sense, and all of it makes sense...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pearls Before Swine, Dec 26 2002
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (Paperback)
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. Hence the subtitle "Pearls Before Swine."
That's the setup in this minor Vonnegut novel. Eliot has no illusions about the quality of the people he sometimes helps or how far his help will go. But he insists that the world would be a better place if everyone gave a little something to each other. This in turn sets Eliot up for a confrontation with a lawyer and his Senator father as the family fortune is threatened because Eliot can be proven insane. After all, he's giving it away. He must be crazy. Kilgore Trout comes to the rescue with his usual comically inverted (and yet somehow truer) morals.
This isn't Vonnegut's best but it is a pleasant and gentle novel with a bit of a moral and some good comic moments. A nice read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars To call this a DEEP read is an understatement., Nov. 12 2000
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (Paperback)
Mr. Vonnegut has put forth a great piece of literature that binds together the worlds of poverty and gross wealth in a study on what makes human beings worthwhile or worthless and the make up of the architect of man.
This novel is a collage of introspection and lessons. Using religious allegory, Vonnegut shows that human beings are only human-- whether poor or rich. His god figurine, when all sculpted by the end of the book, shows the reader a view on the creator of man: entropic on the surface, yet acutely set in his ways of good, even after the denouncment of him by his people. Take this view however you wish.
Vonnegut's god is all of us: rich, poor, filthy, crazy... the list goes on. And Vonnegut raises the strange question: Was God crazy for producing mankind?
This novel is thought provoking, entertaining, and enlightening. Take my view however you wish.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant portrayal of life as ivory-tower dwellers know it., Sept. 22 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel (Paperback)
To paraphraze Winston Churchill, if you don't weep over Vonnegut's acclaimed social satire at 20, you have no heart. If you still weep while re-reading it at 35, you have no brain. By masterfully portraying the abyss between the "dirt-poor" and "filthy rich", wittily arguing that the latter are far more useless than the former, Vonnegut only casually mentions the fairly well-washed millions in between; the ground on which the demarcation lines are blurred, and his personal rules of humanism are frequently set aside in favor of garden-variety street smarts. Vonnegut's trademark quirky characters, vivid style, and tight, beautifully wrapped up plot are, as always, very useful weapons in his emotional blackmail: if you don't see the world on his terms, if you take neither side, be ashamed of yourself! Be very ashamed of yourself...
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God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut (Paperback - Sept. 8 1998)
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