A wise man once said, ‘The key to happiness is low expectations.’
Despite being that wise man, I failed to heed my sage advice and went into this book with fairly lofty expectations because it’s Vonnegut.
It’s basically a non-chronological auto-biography of the main character, Rudy Waltz, and centers around the following line.
That is my principal objection to life, I think: It is too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.
He begins by telling us that his father, Otto Waltz, was born into a wealthy family that earned their fortune principally by selling a quack medicine known as “Saint Elmo’s Remedy.” Otto takes advantage of his family’s affluence to travel to Europe to become an artist where he makes one of his perfectly horrible mistakes by befriending a young Hitler and then preaching the new social order when he returns to his hometown of Midland City, Ohio at the beginning of Hitler’s ascent.
A second perfectly horrible mistake is the accidental detonation of a neutron bomb in Midland City which kills everyone in the area but leaves all the buildings and infrastructure intact.
A third perfectly horrible mistake is committed by Rudy at the tender age of 12 and leads to him living a neutered life where he tries to make amends for his crime by waiting hand and foot on his parents for as long as they live while being as non-existent as possible.
Throughout the book, Rudy sprinkles in detailed cooking recipes, and despite racking my brain to figure out why (alright, maybe I didn’t rack my brain, but I most definitely asked it politely to storm a few reasons), I’ve got nothing. Except that maybe there’s a few people out there who enjoy reading cooking recipes with their literature.
All in all, while the story is flat and somewhat rambling, it does have its fair share of interesting thoughts and witty lines. And there is a quite powerful (and topical at the time of this review) appeal for gun control which I take as the book’s underlying message.
But the fatal flaw of this book is that Vonnegut calls Saint Elmo’s Remedy a quack medicine and goes on to describe it as grain alcohol dyed purple, flavored with cloves and sarsaparilla root, and laced with opium and cocaine. That’s a fucking wonderdrug! How is that not in every Walgreens on the planet?!
I give Deadeye Dick 3.5 pearls (rounded up to 4) but would only recommend it if you go in with very low expectations so that you’re not disappointed. Although there’s a good chance that you still will be so don’t give me no gruff if you are.
The actress playing Celia could ask why God had ever put her on earth.
And then the voice from the back of the theater could rumble: “To reproduce. Nothing else really interests Me. All the rest is frippery.”
That’s God telling us to get it on!!! So send me some naked pics ladies and let’s keep this party going.