Sunday, October 4, 2015

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut (book review)

God Bless You, Mr. RosewaterGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not my favorite Vonnegut novel, but worth reading for passages like this one:

"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."

That's what protagonist Eliot Rosewater, a rich philanthropist with PTSD, tells his estranged wife he's going to say at the baptism of two new babies in his community. Which is a great thing to say. But...why not show us the baptism rather than just talking about it on the phone? I felt like I'd metamorphosed into my ninth grade Writers' Workshop teacher as I read this novel. God Bless you, Mr. Vonnegut, but there's too much telling and not enough showing in this novel.

I know. I know. Who am I to criticize one of the best novelists (and human beings) ever, whose other works I admire so? But I kept thinking this would have made an excellent first draft of a great novel. Most of the characters in Rosewater are too two-dimensional for my taste. I like the idea of this novel better than the execution of it.

Recommended for die-hard Vonnegut fans. All others, stick with Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat's Cradle.

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