“That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.”
Second Vonnegut book of the season, second book of his I’ve read. In the same vein as Slaughter House Dead Eyed Dick takes a straightforward story and then adds a science fiction twist, unlike Slaughter-House which ultimately doesn’t affect much of the main story.
Rudy Waltz, AKA Deadeye Dick earned his nickname when, as a child, he killed a pregnant woman in a freak accident. He was ostracized, his wealthy family was ruined, it became his job to take care of his parents.
The story is mostly told through the perspective of Waltz as he is living in a Hotel in Haiti along with his brother and lawyer, they are all co-owners of the hotel. They are about to sue the government for destroying their hometown with a neutron bomb. Waltz tells the story of his family as it began with his father, who was a friend of Adolph Hitler; they bonded after being rejected by the same art school.
The Waltz family was incredibly wealthy, until the accident, when the family of Waltz’s shot gets their fortune.
We know from the beginning that Rudy is, in his own words, “a murderer” and later that it was technically a double homicide. The day his older brother went to the Army in World War 2 Rudy was placed in charge of his father’s gun collection. To celebrate this advancement Rudy went to the top of his house and let out a single shot over the town. He descended not thinking anything of it until a police car arrived. The Chief of Police was prepared to cover the story up, but Rudy’s father confessed his guilt and took the blame, very publicly.
Rudy spent the rest of his time trying to make up to his parents what he’d put them through. He made their beds, he made their meals, he kept their lives going with his silent hand because they wouldn’t have been able to on their own. This he did until he got the chance to have a play of his produced in New York. While there his parents died.
All of these events are hinted at in the opening chapters. There seem to be no secrets in a Vonnegut novel. He tells you where you’re going and then drives you there, dropping his humor and wisdom along the way. This was a solid entry in that pantheon.
“To be is to do – Socrates.
To do is to be – Jean-Paul Satre.
Do be do be do -Frank Sinatra.”