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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 writerTrout 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 corruptionIt 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 The novel is told mostly thru a collection of short stories dealing with Eliot's interactions with the citizens of Rosewater County usually with the last sentence serving as a punch line The antagonist's tale Mushari's is told in a similar short essay fashion The stories reveal different hypocrisies of humankind in a darkly humorous fashion


10 thoughts on “God Bless You Mr Rosewater or Pearls before Swine

  1. says:

    One of the outright funny novels by Vonnegut God Bless You Mr Rosewater is a scathing social satire about greed hypocrisy and good though misshapen intentions One of the most starkly telling scenes for me is near the end when Elliot has taken up tennis and lost all the weight and it is as though he has awakened from a long sleepFirst published in 1965 Vonnegut shares the story of Eliot Rosewater an heir to a rich estate who is restless and looks to find his way amid various philanthropic misadventures helping the poor becoming a volunteer firefighter etc As a story Vonnegut is his usual hilarious self letting his character as narrator drop several times and revealing personal asides Beneath the surface the author conveys an allegory about our spiritually hollow lives a not so subtle dig at capitalism having money than senseand so it goes 2019 re readRe reading this for the second or third time I am again astounded – YES astounded is the right word – at Vonnegut’s cool minimalistic narrative ability Telling the story of Elliot Rosewater a trust heir who devotes his life to helping the poor the downtrodden and the luckless Vonnegut presents one of his best stories about the haves and have nots and one of his scathingly cynical worksStepping aside from his playful works this one as an edge swimming just under the surface throughout There is still certainly his wit humor and homey charm but his passion for this subject burns through acidly and even as the reader smiles and laughs along with the comedy Vonnegut’s liberal sensibilities prickles and teases us to think about wealth distributionIn Elliot we have one of Vonnegut’s most poignant protagonists His heroism is tragicomic being touched as it is by legitimate mental health issues but also by the supposed psychosis of guilt for his riches Vonnegut is too good to leave us with merely a morality tale about social consciousness – he also asks uestions about the effectiveness of blind welfareElliot is also a big fan of Kilgore Trout and Vonnegut’s ubiuitous science fiction writer has a cameo There is also than a few Shakespearean references especially to Hamlet and another painful visit to the firebombing of Dresden The Rhode Island scenes with the fisherman are some of my favorites in all of his canon


  2. says:

    “The problem is this how to love people who have no use?” The uestion raised by the legendary fictitious author Kilgore Trout in the face of a reality that deals with the ever increasing sophistication of machines is of urgency now than in 1965 when Vonnegut wrote this short masterpiece almost prophetically announcing the world as we know it It deals with the issues of wealth distribution guilt family patterns ineuality greed mental health uselessness and heartlessness while celebrating absurd plots dark humour and stories within stories The character of Eliot Rosewater is deeply touching in his effort to navigate the ruthless world he grows up within The ideas he comes up with to counterbalance the immense wealth he has inherited along with a long mandatory list of reuired behaviours and opinions are revolutionary simply for their lack of violence and their focus on individuals rather than principlesWhat is the meaning of life? Like Saul Bellow’s Dangling Man Kurt Vonnegut poses the uestion how to cope with human life without a specific function However his solution as represented in the uniue Eliot Rosewater is optimistic closing on a call for humanity to break negative patterns and to extend their interest to people that have no other connection to them than the simple fact of shared humanityThis was my fourth Vonnegut and the one that definitely put him on my all time favourite shelf I was positively surprised by the hilarious ending which suggested some hope for humankind as I had placed Vonnegut high up on the list of authors with the bleakest vision for humanity after I read Cat's Cradle The trademark dark humour and the interconnected stories within the main story that I had enjoyed in Breakfast of Champions were taken to a higher level in God Bless You Mr Rosewater where the small sideshows added new angles to the overarching message of the general plotKurt Vonnegut is one of those authors that get better the you read them so I strongly recommend all of you my dear friends to get started If the first one seems confusing the second will reveal its inherent pattern the third will explain its sense of humour and the fourth will be a pure delight joining all ingredients in a Vonnegut recipe to a perfect dish


  3. says:

    I read this very excitingly to record a podcast episode with AS King There were so many laugh out loud lines or profound lines that I actually ended up reading 80% of this book out loud to my boyfriend I loved the main character and I think I'll be thinking about the money river for the rest of my life


  4. says:

    Secrets of the Money RiverVonnegut knew stuff about corporate life that most folk don't Namely that 1 no one owns the corporation and 2 that the essence of the corporation is the separation of control dominium in legalese and benefit usufructus The corporation is essentially and magnificently useless It is an arrangement that would have driven Roman lawyers insane mainly because they euated control and benefit if you got the use of something you owned it Breaking the link between control and benefit was to them dangerous not to say impossibleBut medieval lawyers mostly priests found a way round the Roman legal tradition So in Vonnegut's novel the shares but not the assets of the Rosewater Company are owned by the Rosewater Trust The only thing the later can expect from the former is an 'euitable' flow of dividends which is exactly what it gets Otherwise the Trust has no say in what the Corporation does or how it does it The Rosewater Corporation is in itself uselessIt is the Trust that gives the Corporation its usefulness The chairmanship of the Trust is hereditary but that has no influence on who runs the company An excellent summary of the modern corporate condition As Vonnegut says about his main characters Almost all were beneficiaries of boodles and laws that had nothing to do with wisdom or work They treat themselves as merely extensions of the corporation and as such useless that is as making only decisions of control not benefitThe separation of corporate control and benefit opens the way for what Roman lawyers feared most fraud Who can say whether those in control the corporate managers are really doing their best for the beneficiaries? In fact what can 'best' mean when it is merely the superlative for an infinite number of uite different possible 'goods'? The opportunity for fraud is immense and historically irresistible This is the main theme of God Bless You Mr Rosewater corporate fraud and how to combat itFraud pervades the book from Norman Mushari's attempts to wrest control of the Rosewater Trust to Amanita Buntline's affected passion for Beethoven mistakenly played at the wrong speed The big fraud of course is that those with corporate control create social benefit They don't As Selena Buntline's maid says It’s the way they have of thinking that everything nice in the world is a gift to the poor people from them or their ancestors This includes the ocean the moon the stars in the sky and the United States ConstitutionSome folk do benefit by the legal arrangements of corporate capitalism There are about seven in Rosewater County Indiana for example But aside from them it's the fraudsters who end up on top Legal arrangements being what they are the corporate world is as the Romans knew it would be like the 1812 Overture played on a kazoo That is to say a false representation of something magnificent the instinct to do something beneficial for ones fellow manVonnegut suggests two options for overcoming the power of the false representation in corporate capitalism insanity or generosity The fact that Donald Trump is president of the United States suggests that most people most Americans anyhow prefer the first option


  5. says:

    Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You Mr Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine looks at a man with nearly unlimited money Eliot Rosewater who wants to help the poor but often seems out of touch eccentric or downright insane There is a cartoon strip with this novel’s subtitle Pearls Before Swine Like Vonnegut’s own writing this comic strip offers dark humor crazy characters and lots of social commentary I’m not positive Stephan Pastis the creator took the name of his comic strip from Vonnegut’s title; however it makes for an interesting comparison While Vonnegut doesn’t appear in his novels his alter egos most certainly do Partially based on a fellow writer but also undoubtedly Vonnegut himself one of my favorite characters Kilgore Trout makes his first appearance in a Vonnegut novel Likewise In Pearls Before Swine Stephas Pastis provides commentary in his own appearances Something else worth mentioning Eliot Rosewater’s sporadic attempts to do good don’t offer much of a plot but again like the comic strip his actions are replete with social commentary Maybe could be said about the two but I’ll end the comparison there “In time almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods food services and machines as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics engineering and probably medicine too So—if we can’t find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings then we might as well as has so often been suggested rub them out” “Hello babies Welcome to Earth 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”The dignity of human beings rather than any specific plot is always close to the surface of Vonnegut’s works From his novel Player Piano on Vonnegut has also been prophetic about the direction of automation replacing human beings But he is vehement that people have a value outside of any job or any role they might have in society What’s working against the tendency to value people however is greed exemplified in God Bless You Mr Rosewater by corporations “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 turned green bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited filled with gas went bang in the noonday sun”God Bless You Mr Rosewater is a solid Vonnegut read And did I mention this was Kilgore Trout’s first appearance in Vonnegut’s work? 45 stars


  6. says:

    The Rosewater Foundation has money than God When Eliot Rosewater the current head starts making people nervous with all his talk of redistributing wealth Norman Mushari decides to put Eliot's sanity to test in court and reaches out to the Rhode Island branch of the Rosewater familyKurt Vonnegut takes on capitalism and socialism in God Bless You Mr Rosewater the fourth book of his I've read I'm still not sure how I feel about the esteemed Mr Vonnegut I think his writing is exceptional but his plots are all over the placeTo put things as simply as I can Eliot Rosewater goes off his nut and finds salvation in the form of hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and being a volunteer firefighter in the town of Rosewater Indiana His generous behavior coupled with his alcoholic lifestyle worry his family's lawyers enough for Norman Mushari to try to hijack the Rosewater legacy out from under him Hilarity and some convoluted antics ensueLike all Vonnegut novels God Bless You Mr Rosewater points out the absurdities of life In this case generosity in a world of capitalists Vonnegut peppers the text with pearls of wisdom such as “There's only one rule that I know of babies—God damn it you've got to be kind” The central message of the book seems to be that in a world where people are replaced by robots and computers every day even people without purpose need to be loved Soon we'll all be in that boat In the end Eliot manages to stick it to the man and all is as right with the world as it can be in a Kurt Vonnegut bookSo it goes At the end of the day I'm not sure how I felt about this book I liked some parts uite a bit and others just seemed like filler It wasn't my favorite Vonnegut but it was at least as good as Galápagos Three out of five stars


  7. says:

    I always seemed to have done things the way I wanted to when I was a kidBeing mildly autistic I learned things a lot differently than other kids sometimes with none of it especially math sinking in I thought differently but I was really half dreaming I played piano differently but I thundered downward on the keys instead of flexibly moving my fingers Into them And I laughed hysterically but usually with glee especially at teenaged deranged cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle So also I laughed hysterically at my first Vonnegut book which musta seemed like a cartoon but wasn’t and it was probably Sirens of TitanI had heard all about the new Boomer Counterculture Sensation Kurt V from my Grandmother’s Atlantic Magazine and from my Mom’s New York Times Book Review The best thing for us Boomer Boppers since fresh sliced white bread they all saidOf course I was scandalized by Vonnegut’s crudeness but thought I had to make a mature dent in such books ones my parents’ mature generation even endorsed so reading Vonnegut ushered me into an oddly skewed adult worldMost of the jokes I didn’t get for I was a teen with no political savvy But then again Woodstock was fanatically dear to my teen peers so I fell in with a bandwagon of countercultural political leaningOf course later combining leftist sentiment with conservative morality I couldn’t see the Mack Truck Barrelling in my direction in the rear view blind spot that was my nonexistent and a little autistic perspicuity But that’s my historyBy the time I read Eliot Rosewater’s story I could still laugh thanks to my then mid teen sister’s youthful giggling presence in my life but it was after my ‘accident’ so Mr Rosewater was for me a bitterly sardonic type of laughSchool of Hard Knocks anyone? Just leave your reasoning at the doorThat’s why I was VERY happy today to read my good friend Brian’s review here because he showed me a reason for joy in this book which I thought joyless You see I never knew black humour in my life because like Norman Peale I’ve always tried to see goodness in those around meAnd also just like Eliot Rosewater I was the cynics’ whipping boySo when Brian resurrected Eliot from the depths of my depressive reaction to this novel and showed the outright godliness in Mr Rosewater’s altruistic demeanour I was overjoyedBecause Brian you have rescued Eliot’s reputation for meAnd my warped understanding of this book Which was always threatened by an incipient cloud of despair over my shared fallen humanity As Brian so skilfully shows was never this great author’s intention


  8. says:

    Once I realized and accepted the fact that I will never completely understand what Kurt Vonnegut writes it became a lot easier for me to read his books My first attempt at reading his work Cat's Cradle resulted in me staring at the page mentally shouting at Kurt Vonnegut What are you even TALKING about? Reading Slaughter House Five went slightly better and by the time I read Mr Rosewater I was completely at peace with Vonnegut's maybe this all has deep meaning and maybe I'm just pulling it out of my ass style Confusing possible symbolism aside God Bless You Mr Rosewater is an intriguing look at wealth and charity in America And why lawyers are evil Also I was happy to see that the infamous Kilgore Trout my favorite recurring Vonnegut character made another appearance in the story of Mr Rosewater


  9. says:

    Hello babies Welcome to Earth 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― Kurt Vonnegut God Bless You Mr RosewaterI've only got two big rules with my two babies one boy one girl # 1 be happy # 2 be kind Everything else is negotable 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 Vonnegut's novel also known as 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 or protected In some ways 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


  10. says:

    Rude but Not ConstruedA satire on American society capitalism and religious and sexual hypocrisy Vonnegut’s ensemble includes Eliot Rosewater a less unfortunate Jay GatsbyF Scott Fitzgerald who lives long enough to be charitable with his family’s trust funds his father Senator Lister Rosewater a male incarnation of Ayn Rand whose Atlas Shrugged was published eight years before and The Virtue of Selfishness the year before this novel and science fiction novelist Kilgore Trout who resembles Jesus Christ in appearance until he shaves his beard off – and philosophy the problem is this how to love people without any use and how to embrace enthusiastic unselfishness Also featured en masse are the desperate useless poor the pearls and the rapacious useful rich the swine Eliot believes There’s plenty for everybody in this country if we’ll only share Instead the rich bully their way to the trough so they can slurp from the Money River protesting What about incentive? Meanwhile they pretend to be good always so that even God will be fooled In a preemptive reversal of Infinite Jest Eliot suffers a black out then becomes a legendary tennis player When complimented on his political platform Kilgore Trout returns serve with Thank you It's up to us to determine whether this defines his gratitude or his platform Inspired Eliot gives in a way that can be regarded as either Christian or Socialist – to each according to their needs Vonnegut embarrassed by his allegory disclaims All persons living and dead are purely coincidental and should not be construed And so the construction must end here Thank youSOUNDTRACKThe Beatles Piggies