Wednesday, October 5, 2016

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine . New York: Dell Publishing, 1965. Print.

image from: personal photo of cover

My Thoughts
I remember liking Slaughterhouse-Five in graduate school, so I picked this book up at a garage sale, and it's been sitting on my shelf, waiting for me. Since I've been reading a lot of current fiction, I thought I'd go back and read something older.  This book was published over 50 years ago, but some of the social commentary is relevant for today. In fact, I caught myself thinking several times how prophetic the story is.  For example,  Vonnegut writes about the welfare system. I think it's true that as a society, we've created "a generation of people to whom welfare has long since become a way of life" (137). Hmmm...wonder what he'd write today.

This is the story of Eliot Rosewater, the heir to a fortune and the head of the Rosewater Foundation. "His duties, according to the charter, were exactly as flimsy or as formidable as he himself declared them to be (Vonnegut 26). His main job is spending money. He doesn't spend it on himself, though. He gives it away to the people in Rosewater County, IN. Is he crazy? A lawyer is trying to prove it so, in order to get his hands on the money for himself.

Eliot Rosewater loves science fiction, his favorite writer is Kilgore Trout. I'm pretty sure this name is also used in Slaughterhouse-Five as well as the planet Tralfamadore. I didn't go back and check that, but these are words I've heard (or read) before this book.

I understood the basic story. There are several times in the book that I recognized allusions, but I didn't understand the deeper meaning. Vonnegut also uses an advanced vocabulary, and I found myself looking up several words. I did think about what Vonnegut was writing. So, now I've read it, but this won't be a book I read again.

The title reference is on page 74 and 158.

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