A brilliant story about a millionaire who develops a social conscience. Of course, he is totally insane.
Mr Rosewater is the sole heir to a vast fortune, amassed throughout generations of Rosewaters. Unfortunately, he has gone rather mad. He has holed up in the town of Rosewater and has begun manning a helpline for residents, offering them money and advice for nothing in exchange.
Norman Mushari, a conniving lawyer, sees these eccentricities (and his rather odd relationship with his wife) as an opportunity to declare him mentally incompetent, strike him off the inheritance and offload the fortune to a distant and unknowing second cousin. Of course, all this involves quite a bit of commission, but Mushari is pretty confident that his bet on easy money will pay off. After all, who is going to argue that this man is insane?
Rosewater’s kindness and the precarious situation that he finds himself in draws comparisons to James Stewart in Harvey, where his kind nature and friendly disposition are seen as symptoms rather than attributes.
The dialogue and storyline is brilliant, and as always with Vonnegut there is a particular twang, an earthy humour which comes out especially in the interactions between Rosewater and the people in the town. He strikes a wonderful chord between melancholy and humour, and the ending provides the cherry on the cake to a fun, well-meaning short novel. Utterly brilliant.
Favourite quote: “There’s only one rule that I know of babies. God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
This review is part of my 1000 books by 30 challenge. Read more about it here!