28 January 2011
5. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
The book is also known as "Pearls Before Swine" and the title page lists both titles. This was definately not my favorite Vonnegut novel. It was good, but not as good as others I have read.
Eliot Rosewater is the main character in this novel. he is the President of the Rosewater Foundation and a millionaire. This position and it's wealth can be transferred to another family member only if Eliot is proven insane. A corrupt and greedy lawyer plans to do just that and make a fortune during the transfer of power and wealth.
We get to know Eliot, his father the Senator, his estranged Parisien wife, the simple people of Rosewater county that he is taking care of, Fred Rosewater and the Rhode Island cousins, and a few other characters.
The story is told as a series of short stories about numerous incidents. Sometimes this feels disconnected, but it does make sense as you read on.
I realize that this book is satire and criticizes the faults in modern day American society, but I did not find it all that humorous or eye-opening. Maybe forty years ago it was more meaningful than it is today.
One thing that really did stand out was when Eliot's father, the obviously capitalistic politician and upper crust rich guy, confronted Eliot for the way he chose to live. At one point the Senator accused Eliot of being a communist. I did not find that correct at all. Dad saw Eliot's giving money to the poor as a communist trait. He saw it as "sharing the wealth". That is not communist. Communist is about taking from the rich and giving to the poor...redistributing through state control. Eliot was giving away his own money to things he found important. I call that charity. So, the Senator was wrong. I understand that Vonnegut was using this as an example of satirizing the rich as snobbish and cruel with no feelings for the poor, but it was not believable in that instance. Maybe when it was written it made more sense. That was much closer to the McCarthy commie hunts. That could be why it was used.
I will read more Vonnegut, but I will not read this one again. He has better novels.