I’m also reading God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, and wondering why I’m not as excited about it as I have been about Vonnegut in the past. I guess its more overtly political than I’m used to. I think Fountainhead perverted my acceptance of political messages in fiction. Vonnegut is overtly political in much of Man Without a Country, but being nonfiction I don’t care so much. Mother Night was about Nazis, ostensibly, but less about the obviously horrendous politics and policy of Nazis — because who needs a novel to tell you that Nazis are bad — and more about personal responsibility. Writing fiction about politics seems to invite you into the same pitfalls as writing period-piece fiction, it ties any message or emotional content to a context that by definition can’t be as universal. It’s not that I disagree with the things Vonnegut’s trying to say but I don’t feel like I’m learning anything new. I don’t particularly care for being a part of a choir being preached to.
Let me start over. I just finished reading God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, and I wonder why I’m not as excited about it as I have been about Vonnegut in the past. Rosewater, the character not the novel, is yurodivy I guess. I haven’t read The Idiot, and probably should, but I’m gonna go ahead and make a broad statement about this type of fiction anyway. A novel about a yurodivy should either: 1. Allow the correctness of the yurodivy be revealed over the course of the novel, or 2. Have a sizable portion of the narrative not be about how correct the yurodivy is. Rosewater, the novel not the character, sets up the character as correct right off the bat. Or is this just because I’m used to Vonnegut’s political ideals and read his stuff in the wrong order? What if I read Rosewater before Man Without a Country? The most interesting part of the book, for me, was the content about the Rhode Island Rosewaters — this is the part of the narrative that’s not about the correctness of the yurodivy — but Vonnegut after a fashion simply stops talking about them. These are his roundest characters and then poof! he abandons them.
I am, sadly, disappointed.