Top critical review
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a eccentric but highly persuasive attack on unearned wealth
on 26 August 2011
This is not so much a novel as such, as a satire or a fable. That is to say: it's not a book concerned with coherent plotting, character development, or with bringing to life a concreted picture of an imagined world. But it is a very effective attack on unearned wealth in 1960s USA - whether in the person of the half-eccentric, half-mad, central figure of Eliot Rosewater (obsessed with local fire brigades and a man who spends much of his life in institutions, when not doing good in the world by giving away money) or the less likeable figures of his father, the lawyer who decides to prove him mad, or the other rich people in the book. Unexpected turns abound, including quotations from the work of an imaginary science fiction author, Kilgore Trout, and a history of the fire-bombing of Dresden, paving the way for Vonnegut's next book, Slaughterhouse Five. Vonnegut has a point - and he makes it very convincingly and in considerable style. Just don't expect the normal rewards of a novel!