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Breakfast of Champions (1973) provides frantic, scattershot satire and a collage of Vonnegut’s obsessions. His recurring cast of characters and American landscape was perhaps the most controversial of his canon; it was felt by many at the time to be a disappointing successor to Slaughterhouse-Five, which had made Vonnegut’s literary reputation.

The core of the novel is Kilgore Trout, a familiar character very deliberately modeled on the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985), a fact which Vonnegut conceded frequently in interviews and which was based upon his own occasional relationship with Sturgeon. Here Kilgore Trout is an itinerant wandering from one science fiction convention to another; he intersects with the protagonist, Dwayne Hoover (one of Vonnegut’s typically boosterish, lost and stupid mid-American characters) and their intersection is the excuse for the evocation of many others, familiar and unfamiliar, dredged from Vonnegut’s gallery.

The central issue is concerned with intersecting and apposite views of reality, and much of the narrative is filtered through Trout who is neither certifiably insane nor a visionary writer but can pass for either depending upon Dwayne Hoover’s (and Vonnegut’s) view of the situation. America, when this novel was published, was in the throes of Nixon, Watergate and the unraveling of our intervention in Vietnam; the nation was beginning to fragment ideologically and geographically, and Vonnegut sought to cram all of this dysfunction (and a goofy, desperate kind of hope, the irrational comfort given through the genre of science fiction) into a sprawling narrative whose sense, if any, is situational, not conceptual.

Reviews were polarized; the novel was celebrated for its bizarre aspects, became the basis of a Bruce Willis movie adaptation whose reviews were not nearly so polarized. (Most critics hated it.) This novel in its freewheeling and deliberately fragmented sequentiality may be the quintessential Vonnegut novel, not necessarily his best, but the work which most truly embodies the range of his talent, cartooned alienation and despair.

Topics: Metafiction, Black Humor, Satirical, Funny, Unreliable Narrator, Postmodern, Small Town, Midwestern America, Irreverent, Consumerism, 20th Century, American Author, and Speculative Fiction

Published: RosettaBooks on Dec 1, 1999
ISBN: 9780795311956
List price: $8.99
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Wow. What a ride.read more
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Perfect book.read more
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After the mastery of Slaughterhouse Five, the stale mannerisms here were a horrible disappointment.read more
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Wow. What a ride.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Perfect book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
After the mastery of Slaughterhouse Five, the stale mannerisms here were a horrible disappointment.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Kilgore Trout reappears in this classicly chaotic Vonnegut novel as he slowly helps Dwayne Hoover, a used car salesman, go mad! Vonnegut touches on all his crazy topics through this trip which ends in Cuba, I think. A totally crazy but fantasticly fun ride!
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I suppose anyone knows this book, so I won`t repeat the plot. I liked the way Vonneguth tells stories, also in some places I got little but unsatisfied by his sudden change of story - his is swiftly switching between different subjects. One thing I liked the most, is his laughing about things other people take seriously.[more: rozmarins.blogspot.com]
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I recently reread this after Vonnegut's death. The last time I read it I think I was 15. It's still as funny, as quirky, and as fantastically politically incorrect as ever. I don't know if he could have published this today, given how uptight amerika has become. It's not a grand sweeping book, but a small, not very delicate satire that still hits its targets.
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