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Second only to Slaughterhouse-Five of Vonnegut’s canon in its prominence and influence, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) presents Eliot Rosewater, an itinerant, semi-crazed millionaire wandering the country in search of heritage and philanthropic outcome, introducing the science fiction writer Kilgore Trout to the world and Vonnegut to the collegiate audience which would soon make him a cult writer.

Trout, modeled according to Vonnegut on the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (with whom Vonnegut had an occasional relationship) is a desperate, impoverished but visionary hack writer who functions for Eliot Rosewater as both conscience and horrid example. Rosewater, seeking to put his inheritance to some meaningful use (his father was an entrepreneur), tries to do good within the context of almost illimitable cynicism and corruption.

It is in this novel that Rosewater wanders into a science fiction conference--an actual annual event in Milford, Pennsylvania--and at the motel delivers his famous monologue evoked by science fiction writers and critics for almost half a century: “None of you can write for sour apples... but you’re the only people trying to come to terms with the really terrific things which are happening today.” Money does not drive Mr. Rosewater (or the corrupt lawyer who tries to shape the Rosewater fortune) so much as outrage at the human condition.

The novel was adapted for a 1979 Alan Menken musical.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut’s audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut’s work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut’s work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut’s reputation (like Mark Twain’s) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut’s World War II POW experience) and Cat’s Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut’s work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut’s work as well as newcomers.

Published: RosettaBooks on
ISBN: 9780795319075
List price: $8.99
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They've decided Vonnegut belongs in sci-fi. I think I would have picked philosophy. He's one of those rare people who can see things, as they are.more
I don't seem to understand why some people classify Vonnegut as a humorist. I find his books to be intensely sobering and the kind of thing that a lot of people should read.more
Recommend this book highly. It is about money, the undeserving rich who inherit their wealth and their attitude toward the rest of humanity. Hard to believeit was written in 1965 and not this year. Things don't change much.more
I thought that I had read all of Vonnegut's early novels long ago, but I'm pretty sure this was new to me.Interesting read, but not really grabbing. Definitely Vonnegut, tough.more
Money, suicide, at least one Dresden reference, crazy people, Kilgore Trout... another classic Vonnegut novel. Felt a little disjointed at the end, but still great.more
It would appear that my quest to read a less than awesome Kurt Vonnegut book must continue. Damn it, man, can't you write something that isn't enjoyable and poignant? What the hell? Why not just write a book that is only great? Do they have to all be awesome? Doesn't this get old to you? This here is a satire of the American class system and Western capitalism. As usual it is hilarious, and honest, and well-conceived, and blah blah blah isn't Vonnegut just one of the best American writers ever. I mean, he really is. This book also rules. I liked it a whole lot.more
Now that I have been writing book reviews on almost everything I read, I feel compelled to write at least a few words on this incredible novel of Kurt Vonnegut’s – of which thousands of reviews have been written already.I kept having to check the publishing information to make sure that it was written 46 years ago and not 46 minutes ago. Some of the concepts are so prescient as to seem almost spooky. (Or perhaps that means they are timeless…but caught up in today’s crazy political spectrum, I am going with the prophetic angle.)“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. Thus the American dream turned belly up…” Can anyone say Wisconsin in 2011?And, “An even more instructive motto, in the light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters, might be: Grab much too much, or you’ll get nothing at all.”I tore through this book, amazed not only by Vonnegut’s amazing social commentary, but also by the small pauses of quiet beauty he describes, scenes of a country that was and might not be much longer. “That’s such an American sound, you know? School out and the flag down? Such a sad American sound. You should hear it sometime when the sun’s gone down, and a light evening wind comes up, and it’s suppertime all over the world.” So descriptive…I can see and feel the scene exactly.I must thank my aunt again for what turned out to be one of my best birthday presents…a book that seems one written in the past but most applicable for our tenuous present. If only we had an Eliot Rosewater to save us, to realize the unjust reality he describes that so many Americans now live in.“…fright about not getting enough to eat, about not being able to pay the doctor, about not being able to give your family nice clothes, a safe, cheerful, comfortable place to live, a decent education, and a few good times? You mean shame about not knowing where the Money River is?”“The what?”“The Money River, where the wealth of the nation flows. We were born on the banks of it – and so were most of the mediocre people we grew up with, went to private schools with, sailed and played tennis with. We can slurp from that mighty river to our hearts’ content.”Because even in a land where there is the theoretical chance that a person can become “self made”, what matters now more than ever, is how close one was born to that magical Money River.more
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...more
This book is about money. What can money do for you and what it can do TO you. It is a good stark look at poverty and the helpless. What if you just gave them money, would it improve their condition, or make it worse? Eliot Rosewater is now the president of the Rosewater Foundation. A foundation that controls $87 million. An incident during World War II changes him forever and he decides to give his money to whoever asks for some. He also becomes obsessed with volunteer firefighters. Eventually everyone thinks he is crazy. There is an attempt to take away his money by another member of the Rosewater clan. Eliot's father is then forced to defend his son's "crazy" actions. "Your devotion to volunteer fire departments is very sane, too, Eliot, for they are, when the alarm goes off, almost the only examples of enthusiastic unselfishness to be seen in this land. They rush to the rescue of any human being, and count not the cost. The most contemptible man in town, should his contemptible house catch fire, will see his enemies put the fire out. And, as he pokes through the ashes for the remains of his contemptible posessions, he will be comforted and pities by no less than the Fire Chief." Trout spread his hands. "There we have people treasuring people as people. It's extremely rare. So from this we must learn."This book spends a great deal of time speaking about money."E pluribus unum is surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property, priviledges, and pleasures that have been denies the many. An even more instructive motto, in the light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters, might be: Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all.""You gave up everything a man is supposed to want, just to help the little people, and the little people know it. God bless you, Mr. Rosewater."There is a good commentary on how to teach people to make money."...people don't share things in this country. I think it's a heartless government that will let one baby be born owning a big piece of the country, the way I was born, and let another baby be born without owning anything. The least a government could do, it seems to me, is to divide things up fairly among the babies. Life is hard enough, without people having to worry themselves sick about _money_, too. There's plenty for everybody in this country, if we'll only _share_ more." "And just what do you think that would do to incentive?" "You mean fright about not getting enough to eat, about not being able to pay the doctor, about not being able to give your family nice clothes, a safe, cheerful, comfortable place to live, a decent education, and a few good times? You mean shame about not knowing where the Money River is?" "The _what_?" "The Money River, where the wealth of the nation flows. We were born on the banks of it -- and so were most of the mediocre people we grew up with, went to private schools with, sailed and played tennis with. We can slurp from that mighty river to our hearts' content. And we even take slurping lessons, so we can slurp more efficiently." "Slurping lessons?" "From lawyers! From tax consultants! From customers' men! We're born close enough to the river to drown ourselves and the next ten generations in wealth, simply using dippers and buckets. But we still hire the experts to teach us the use of aqueducts, dams, reservoirs, siphons, bucket brigades, and the Archimedes' screw. And our teachers in turn become rich, and their children become buyers of lessons in slurping."more
Not my favorite vonnegut book, but a good one to see his development as a writer.more
Not A-list Vonnegut, but pleasant enough.more
Read all 14 reviews

Reviews

They've decided Vonnegut belongs in sci-fi. I think I would have picked philosophy. He's one of those rare people who can see things, as they are.more
I don't seem to understand why some people classify Vonnegut as a humorist. I find his books to be intensely sobering and the kind of thing that a lot of people should read.more
Recommend this book highly. It is about money, the undeserving rich who inherit their wealth and their attitude toward the rest of humanity. Hard to believeit was written in 1965 and not this year. Things don't change much.more
I thought that I had read all of Vonnegut's early novels long ago, but I'm pretty sure this was new to me.Interesting read, but not really grabbing. Definitely Vonnegut, tough.more
Money, suicide, at least one Dresden reference, crazy people, Kilgore Trout... another classic Vonnegut novel. Felt a little disjointed at the end, but still great.more
It would appear that my quest to read a less than awesome Kurt Vonnegut book must continue. Damn it, man, can't you write something that isn't enjoyable and poignant? What the hell? Why not just write a book that is only great? Do they have to all be awesome? Doesn't this get old to you? This here is a satire of the American class system and Western capitalism. As usual it is hilarious, and honest, and well-conceived, and blah blah blah isn't Vonnegut just one of the best American writers ever. I mean, he really is. This book also rules. I liked it a whole lot.more
Now that I have been writing book reviews on almost everything I read, I feel compelled to write at least a few words on this incredible novel of Kurt Vonnegut’s – of which thousands of reviews have been written already.I kept having to check the publishing information to make sure that it was written 46 years ago and not 46 minutes ago. Some of the concepts are so prescient as to seem almost spooky. (Or perhaps that means they are timeless…but caught up in today’s crazy political spectrum, I am going with the prophetic angle.)“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. Thus the American dream turned belly up…” Can anyone say Wisconsin in 2011?And, “An even more instructive motto, in the light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters, might be: Grab much too much, or you’ll get nothing at all.”I tore through this book, amazed not only by Vonnegut’s amazing social commentary, but also by the small pauses of quiet beauty he describes, scenes of a country that was and might not be much longer. “That’s such an American sound, you know? School out and the flag down? Such a sad American sound. You should hear it sometime when the sun’s gone down, and a light evening wind comes up, and it’s suppertime all over the world.” So descriptive…I can see and feel the scene exactly.I must thank my aunt again for what turned out to be one of my best birthday presents…a book that seems one written in the past but most applicable for our tenuous present. If only we had an Eliot Rosewater to save us, to realize the unjust reality he describes that so many Americans now live in.“…fright about not getting enough to eat, about not being able to pay the doctor, about not being able to give your family nice clothes, a safe, cheerful, comfortable place to live, a decent education, and a few good times? You mean shame about not knowing where the Money River is?”“The what?”“The Money River, where the wealth of the nation flows. We were born on the banks of it – and so were most of the mediocre people we grew up with, went to private schools with, sailed and played tennis with. We can slurp from that mighty river to our hearts’ content.”Because even in a land where there is the theoretical chance that a person can become “self made”, what matters now more than ever, is how close one was born to that magical Money River.more
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...more
This book is about money. What can money do for you and what it can do TO you. It is a good stark look at poverty and the helpless. What if you just gave them money, would it improve their condition, or make it worse? Eliot Rosewater is now the president of the Rosewater Foundation. A foundation that controls $87 million. An incident during World War II changes him forever and he decides to give his money to whoever asks for some. He also becomes obsessed with volunteer firefighters. Eventually everyone thinks he is crazy. There is an attempt to take away his money by another member of the Rosewater clan. Eliot's father is then forced to defend his son's "crazy" actions. "Your devotion to volunteer fire departments is very sane, too, Eliot, for they are, when the alarm goes off, almost the only examples of enthusiastic unselfishness to be seen in this land. They rush to the rescue of any human being, and count not the cost. The most contemptible man in town, should his contemptible house catch fire, will see his enemies put the fire out. And, as he pokes through the ashes for the remains of his contemptible posessions, he will be comforted and pities by no less than the Fire Chief." Trout spread his hands. "There we have people treasuring people as people. It's extremely rare. So from this we must learn."This book spends a great deal of time speaking about money."E pluribus unum is surely an ironic motto to inscribe on the currency of this Utopia gone bust, for every grotesquely rich American represents property, priviledges, and pleasures that have been denies the many. An even more instructive motto, in the light of history made by the Noah Rosewaters, might be: Grab much too much, or you'll get nothing at all.""You gave up everything a man is supposed to want, just to help the little people, and the little people know it. God bless you, Mr. Rosewater."There is a good commentary on how to teach people to make money."...people don't share things in this country. I think it's a heartless government that will let one baby be born owning a big piece of the country, the way I was born, and let another baby be born without owning anything. The least a government could do, it seems to me, is to divide things up fairly among the babies. Life is hard enough, without people having to worry themselves sick about _money_, too. There's plenty for everybody in this country, if we'll only _share_ more." "And just what do you think that would do to incentive?" "You mean fright about not getting enough to eat, about not being able to pay the doctor, about not being able to give your family nice clothes, a safe, cheerful, comfortable place to live, a decent education, and a few good times? You mean shame about not knowing where the Money River is?" "The _what_?" "The Money River, where the wealth of the nation flows. We were born on the banks of it -- and so were most of the mediocre people we grew up with, went to private schools with, sailed and played tennis with. We can slurp from that mighty river to our hearts' content. And we even take slurping lessons, so we can slurp more efficiently." "Slurping lessons?" "From lawyers! From tax consultants! From customers' men! We're born close enough to the river to drown ourselves and the next ten generations in wealth, simply using dippers and buckets. But we still hire the experts to teach us the use of aqueducts, dams, reservoirs, siphons, bucket brigades, and the Archimedes' screw. And our teachers in turn become rich, and their children become buyers of lessons in slurping."more
Not my favorite vonnegut book, but a good one to see his development as a writer.more
Not A-list Vonnegut, but pleasant enough.more
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