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History

Follow the Money | Sandweiss on God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Eric Sandweiss   “A sum of money,” Vonnegut’s narrator alerts us, will be “a leading character” in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the novelist’s 1965 tale of the hazard of old fortunes (1). Like his creator, Eliot Rosewater—the holy fool who fills that lead role in a more conventional sense—is also struck by money’s personal charisma. Mr. Rosewater, a science …

“No damn cat, and no damn cradle!” | Sandweiss on Cat’s Cradle

Eric Sandweiss   In Cat’s Cradle, his first novelistic foray out of the postwar gloom of Mother Night, Vonnegut awakens to find the shell-shocked, the disillusioned, the displaced—here a Soviet dancer, there a Nazi doctor, an American defense contractor, a dissipated playboy-turned-humanitarian, and so on—still bouncing about a world turned upside down by generations of global war. We know little …

History . . . by a Hare | Sandweiss on Mother Night

Eric Sandweiss   “The march of time.” “The progress of mankind.” “Time’s arrow.” I admit I had not encountered the image of history as a swift hare (nor art as the defeated tortoise, watching its rival jump into the lead) until I approached the finish line of Mother Night (261), Vonnegut’s first novel-length reckoning with the people and places of …

“To the Record” | Sandweiss on Player Piano

A Historian Sits at Vonnegut’s Piano Eric Sandweiss   “To the record.” It seems an oddly resigned cry with which to toast the failed revolution that closes Player Piano. Is this what it all comes down to—Paul Proteus’s final survey of the wreckage left by his comrades’ failed effort to upend the machinery of a soulless society, punctuated with a …