This is a great book about the role wealth plays in our country. The story centers on Eliot Rosewater, the heir to a tremendous fortune, who chooses t...moreThis is a great book about the role wealth plays in our country. The story centers on Eliot Rosewater, the heir to a tremendous fortune, who chooses to spend his life living in the small town of Rosewater, Indiana (which his family has long since abandoned while still using its tenuous ties to maintain its Indiana seat in the U.S. Senate), lovingly helping the people there with his endless assets. Naturally, then, Vonnegut's plot finds a lawyer trying to have Mr. Rosewater declared insane.
The questions of entitlement to wealth, the role of old money, and the woes of the poor permeate all through the plot of this satire. Along with the central question of how much the wealthy need to actually do for the poor. And can money solve everything?
The book also include brief appearances by the beloved science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (an alter ego for Vonnegut himself) whose educational plots include the whole gamut of the wonderfully absurd (for example, on one planet, where there is a campaign against odor, the dictator of the planet in his absolutely authority decides to ban--not odor itself--noses).
As in any Vonnegut book, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater hits you repeatedly with deep insights and then laughs them off before you can blink. This is great satire and a great story, and certainly a must for any Vonnegut lover. If you've never read Vonnegut before, I don't know that this is the best place to start, given that it uses a lot of inside jokes (try Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, or--my personal favorite--Breakfast of Champions); but if you enjoy this great writer, this is not to be missed.(less)
This is a legal thriller that rolls along well and is set up nicely for a fantastic ending. A wealthy CEO of a tech company repsonsible for critical D...moreThis is a legal thriller that rolls along well and is set up nicely for a fantastic ending. A wealthy CEO of a tech company repsonsible for critical Dept. of Defense software is killed by a professional gun shot by someone who knew where to find the gun and who was trained in shooting twice in rapid succession to make sure the target went down (whence the "double tap"). The cops arrest and charge the natural suspect: a former member of the CEO's security group to whom the gun belonged, with whom the CEO had had a slightly beyond professional relationship, and who had recently been seen following her around.
Enter Paul Madriani, attorney extraordinaire, to investigate the situation and clean up the mess. What follows is good courtroom drama that I (as an attorney myself) appreciate. It's tough to do well. And though Martini at times tosses out information before forgetting that he has given you no basis for understanding what the information means, and then going back and trying to clean it up, for the most part the story flows smoothly along towards what is an eagerly-awaited climax.
The problem for me is the payoff. Now, I won't give anything away here, but I found the revelation of the CEO's killer to be a huge anticlimax and, infinitely worse, simply implausible on the information given to us during the buildup and even after the author's lame attempt to explain how everything ties in. I love a good thriller, but it comes with a risk: whether or not the ending will reward the reader for his ride through all of the buildup. Alas, despite the good courtroom drama, the ending of this one did not. Add to that some unanswered question and some guns left unfired on the mantle (see Chekhov), and you have yourself a two-star disappointment.(less)
I got through about 50 pages before putting this one down. I'm sure Fuentes has some fascinating lights to shine on the area of Mexican politics (whic...moreI got through about 50 pages before putting this one down. I'm sure Fuentes has some fascinating lights to shine on the area of Mexican politics (which is certainly ripe for literary analysis), but I found the medium in this instance to frustrate more than entice. The book takes as its setting a Mexico in 2020 that has lost all electronic means of communication because its Miami-based satellite has encountered a mechanical failure (brought on by Mexico's political demands on the US). On that premise, Fuentes writes the book as a series of letters between political operatives and public figures.
My problem is primarily this: the letters sound nothing like actual letters. They are unduly descriptive in odd spots because Fuentes is trying to get out descriptions of people and circumstances that the actual letters, were they real, would never contain. Even beyond that, I found the writing to be overly loquacious and awkwardly formal. The discomfort from reading the series of poorly-designed correspondence left me unable to get into the subject matter of the book at all. Once I hit 50 pages, I just couldn't motivate myself to read on.(less)
It is simply incredible the power that Steinback packs into this tiny little book. Beautiful and heartbreaking, this story is going to stick with me f...moreIt is simply incredible the power that Steinback packs into this tiny little book. Beautiful and heartbreaking, this story is going to stick with me for a long time.(less)