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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
ISBN: 9780795311956
List price: $8.99
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Wow. What a ride.more
test2: one of the best vonnegut booksmore
I only read this book(after so many disppointing other books)because K. Vonnegut PROMISED it was the last book he would write. I took him at his word and never read another. My life has been better for it.more
Breakfast of Champions: or Goodbye Blue Monday by Kurt Vonnegut is a dark comedy on racism, war, consumerism and greed in America during the 70’s. The book follows two loners, an unknown Sci-Fi writer named Kilgore Trout and a car dealer owner Dwayne Hoover. Both their lives are intertwined by one of the books written by Trout and read by the already plagued with “bad chemicals”, Dwayne Hoover. The book, which Hoover believed was factual, sent him into a violent rampage. Vonnegut is a master satirist and always manages to write some unusual stories, though comparing this to Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions comes up short. It was enjoyable to read, weird in a lot of parts (I really didn’t need to know everyone characters penis size), but overall worth the read.more
Kurt Vonnegut sobre sua literatura, em Breakfast of Champions:

"I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, with such abominable results: they were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books.
Why were so many Americans treated by their government as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tissues? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made-up tales.
And so on.
Once I understood what was making America such a dangerous, unhappy nation of people who had nothing to do with real life, I resolved to shun storytelling. I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, instead, which I think I have done.
If all writers would do that, then perhaps citizens not in the literary trades will understand that there is no order in the world around us, that we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead.
It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done."

Breakfast of Champions é uma sátira mordaz e brilhante sobre a vida na América. Um livro excelente.more
It's not nearly as cohesive as Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle. I saw half a dozen underlying messages but nothing that unified the whole other than the idea that everything is tied together in the oddest of ways. It left me in equal parts bemused and amused.

I was about to give this 3 stars when I started reading portions of it aloud to a co-worker during break. I was only going to read a paragraph or two but then the next paragraph was funny, then the next and the next and so on. I never did get a chance to go get a drink during my break. I spent it all laughing at Vonnegut. For the sake of yeast shit and sea pirates and their ability to make me laugh, I'll give it 4 stars instead.more
Vonnegut deliberately avoids resolution in this story, which might have seemed avaunt-garde and au courant back in 1974, but now it just makes me weary. Other than that nitpick, this is an enjoyable read -- but it doesn't stand up to the other KV books I've read. This book is more fun to read if you're familiar with the concept of the p-zombie ("philosophical zombie") before you read it.more
“He couldn't tell the difference between one politician and another. They were all formlessly enthusiastic chimpanzees to him.” It is said that author wrote this book for himself to mark his 50th birthday and that he was rather disappointed with it, well not me. The book revolves around to main characters Kilgore Trout, a sci-fi author whom no one has ever heard of bar one fan and certainly has made no money from his trade and Dwayne Hoover, a second hand car dealer who everyone seems to think has everything but who is slowly slipping into madness.This lovely book is full of wonderful satire as Vonnegut, with Kilgore Trout being an almost autobiographical figure, and takes a sideways swipe at the art of writing and American culture. Nothing seems to be off limits, racism, politics, green issues, crime and corruption, drug use and abuse, insanity, parenting to name but a few. The juxtaposition of the many ideas and sketches continually amazed and tickled me making me laugh out loud on more than one occasion.The prose is simple and easy to understand and once picked up this is a hard book to put down as you are never quite sure onto what tangent it will be leaping off onto next. Perhaps the ending is a little abrupt but all the same is still a very good read. He certainly managed to give me a new appreciation of 'beavers.'“Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.”more
through the years i've waded through novels on russian morality, american religion, french existentialism and chinese philosophy. this book...helped me put them in an ancient treasure chest of ideas and face the modern world :)this book leaps around in many directions, requiring your complete attention. as it progresses you will sometimes wonder wtf is going on, but fear not! there is light at the end of the tunnel. im prone to say this is his best work. certainly superior to Slaughterhouse 5.more
Breakfast of Champions is a great fun read. It's still hilarious years later and the drawings are insulting to the norm which only adds to the feel of the book. Poor Kilgore and crazy Dwayne are the main stars of this book. Mixed in are other minor characters, are interwoven together and even the author himself makes an appearance. I think if you try to read too much into a book like this you're going to get frustrated. Everything can have a double or triple meaning but just take it for what it is and you'll enjoy it. "You are on par with the Creator of the Universe."more
I have to admit, this book was probably AWESOME in the 70s, but it really hasn't held up very well. I understand the point of the "handbook for extra-terrestrials" style of the narrator, but it was so grating after a while that any of the subtext it hoped to provide was lost on me. I have a similar complaint about the drawings.I wanted to give this a 2, but I couldn't help but view it in the context of when it was written, so I feel a 2 1/2 is a fair compromise.more
A funny trek through the dangers of a creative mind.more
the best 'intersecting characters' story i've ever read.more
While I didn’t like this book as much as the short stories, I would still recommend it. Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘history’ of the U.S. while on the surface ‘tongue in cheek’ and rather simplistic, was quite accurate. He takes complex subjects and reduces them to the bare truth. In this book, everyone is as important as everyone else and we know everything about everyone. The book dips into bad chemicals (drugs?), pollution (cover up?), racism, suicide and pornography in the same manner as the history of the United States. It appears Mr. Vonnegut is making fun of people, while at the same time teaching us how to look below the surface, to see what is really happening around us.more
Always fun to read Kurt Vonnegut. As an author, he's right in there with his characters and whatever shreds of plot he has given them to act out. And I'm happy to be in there with him.more
This is my favourite book of all time, which is a massive statement to make, I love some other books........alot, but even amazing novels like The Savage Detectives, Love in the Time of Cholera, Rant, Sombrero Fallout or The Interrogation which are all 'Desert Island' books for me do not come close to the complete and utter enjoyment I get out of this novel. Why? Well, I am a huge Vonnegut fan and like most people when they come to Vonnegut I started on 'Slaughterhouse 5' and I thought it was pretty good, however it didn't inspire me to read another one of his novels, I didn't think it truly lived up to my expectations. About a year and a half after that a friend of mine, a massive Vonnegut fan told me that he agreed but I should read 'Breakfast of Champions'. So I went ok fine will do, he lent me his copy and I read it and I read it again, and again and so on and so on. I think I read it over eight times in a row and the entire time my brain was screaming at me "WTF! How did this happen!? How can you do everything that you are taught not to do in the writing of a novel and have it be this good!" This is a hilariously funny book, do not read it in public because you will laugh out loud and people will think your a crazy person. The style and format is bizarre, to say the least, but because of its complete insanity it underlines and reinforces the narrative beautifully. The characters are amazingly well drawn, and amazing in their own right, and the way you probably learn a bit to much about them, penis size for example, makes them realistic and human in a book that largely has the feel of being written by an alien observer writing a report on humanity. The illustrations are brilliant, for example the Nazi/ German one, I won't ruin it but you'll know it when you see it. The gratutious use of words that considered very politically incorrect is interesting because Vonnegut manages to steal away their power and make them harmless and inoffensive. This is an very socially aware book, and after reading it I am in awe of Kurt Vonnegut, he is a master and I believe this book is his masterpiece. There are alot of things I want to say but I really don't want to ruin the story. Let me just finish by saying that the last 30 or 40 pages of this novel are ridiculous (in a good way) and I think if any other author had attempted them it would have been painful and stupid, but instead Vonnegut leaves you you sitting there with a big silly grin, wondering what the hell just happened.....I encourge everybody to read this novel, you might hate it, I think I could even see why, but my advice is don't analyze it while your reading just grab a hold and enjoy the ride. Then later, well then try to figure out why you enjoyed yourself so damn much.more
One of the great trilogy of KV books (Slaughterhouse, Cat's, Breakfast). Kilgore Trout and used cars!more
I don't know how many books I've read by Vonnegut now but I'd guess around 10. This was by far my least favorite. There were a lot of specific lines I loved and kept going back and re-reading but as a book I found it slow and tedious. I've taken a break from Vonnegut and it's really too bad. He's a Socialist, he's funny and he's smart. What else do I want in a lover/author?more
Although I didn't care for this nearly as much as some of his other works, I must give Mr.Vonnegut credit for one thing he has Kilgore Trour say. When asked if he fears the future, Kilgore says, "it is the past which scares the bejesus out of me." That line skewered me and was worth the price of the book.more
This is one of the first titles anywhere hears associated with Vonnegut, and, in my limited knowledge of Vonnegut, I think that's a fine thing. It's a quintessential Vonnegut piece.more
No mistaking it, this is a Vonnegut book. To describe a plot would be hard, as it really just tells the story that leads to a car salesman (and entrepreneur) going a bit bonkers and hitting every one in sight. The book isn't even about the getting to the conclusion either, although the author makes it very clear how all the different characters, themes, and circumstances interrelate.Vonnegut just decides to crowbar in his opinions and attitudes to just about everything, and ties all the threads of a story around it. At times very funny, nearly always dark and bitterly sarcastic, it could not be faulted for lacking attitude.However, that said,I found it the least enjoyable Vonnegut bookI have read thus far. It didn't have the ironic and farcical lunacy of Slaughterhouse, it lacked the epic story and twisted hilarity of Sirens of Titan, and trotted along without the same crafted structure of doom that runs through Cat's cradle. It has touches of all these things and a few more besides, but just didn't quite do any of them as well as I had hoped.And so on...more
Vonnegut gives us a tale of madness in his usual loopy and hilarious style. Why not throw in a little art, racism, economic disparity and environmentalism? But beware: not all is lightness and satire here. Vonnegut can be as dark as he is funny. His own drawings are a bonus.more
If I were an author, I would find it very difficult to write a book that could be summed up as "Life is absurd." Because the plot and characters and situations themselves necessarily end up being absurd and meandering and not much fun to read. And that's how it is with Breakfast of Champions.If you liked J. Alfred Prufrock, you will love both Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover. Foils for one another, Kilgore is a struggling sci-fi writer and Dwayne is an unhinged widowed cars salesman. Each reacts in his own way to the desperation of the absurdity of life - Kilgore takes it more in stride and becomes an antagonist to the rest of the world, Dwayne ends up going on a rampage. It would be antithetical to the book to have too direct a plot, so it doesn't. Instead it's a slice of life type narrative, with situations all referring back to absurdity and pointlessness of life. Or, as Trout puts it, "I won't know myself until I find out whether *life* is serious or not. It's *dangerous,* I know, and it can hurt a lot. That doesn't necessarily mean it's *serious.*"more
Best passages:I think I am trying to make my head as empty as it was when I was born onto this damaged planet fifty years ago.I suspect that this is something most white Americans, and nonwhite Americans who imitate white Americans, should do. The things other people hae put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are offten useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head. I have no culture, no humane harmony in my brains. I can't live without a culture anymore.So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen hundred and twenty-two.I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. Whene I wasa boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent duringg the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden. Silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.p 15.1492The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already livingg full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them. p. 18Here was the core of bad ideas which Trout gave to Dwayne: Everybody on Earth was a robot, with one exception--Dwayne Hoover.Of all the creatures in the Universe, only Dwayne was thinking and feeling and worrying and planning and so on. Nobody else knew what pain was. Nobody else had any choices to make. Everybody else was a fully automatic machine, whose purposee was to stimulate Dwayne. Dwayne was a new type of creature being tested by the Creator of the Universe.Only Dwayne Hoover had free will.Trout did not expect to be believed. He put the bad ideas into a science-fiction novel, and that was where Dwayne found them. The book wasn't addressed to Dwayne alone. Trout had never heard of Dwayne when he wrote it. It was addressed to anybody, in effect, "Hey--gues what: You're the only create with free will. How does that make you feel? And so on.It was a tour de force. It was a jeu d'espirit.But it was mind poison to Dwayne.It shook up Trout to realize that even he could bring evil into the world--in the form of bad ideas. And, after Dwayne was carted off to a lunatic asylum in a canvas camisole, Trout became a fanatic on the importance of ideas as causes and cures for diseases. But nobody would listen to him. He was a dirty old man in the wilderness, crying out among the trees and underbrush, "Ideas or the lack of them can cause disease!"Kilgore Trout became a pioneer in the field of mental health. He advanced his theories disguised as science-fiction. He died in 1981, almost 20 years after he made Dwayne Hoover so sick.He was then recognized as a great artist and scientist. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences caused a monument to be erected over his ashes. Carved in its face was a quotation from his last novel, his two-hundred-and-ninth novel, which was unfinished when he died. The monument looked like this:Kilgore Trout 1907-1981"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane"p.23p172“I now give you my word of honor,” he went on, “that the picture your city owns shows everything about life which truly matters, with nothing left out. It is a picture of the awareness of every animal. It is the immaterial core of every animal—the “I am” to which all messages are sent. It is all that is alive in any of us—in a mouse, in a deer, in a cocktail waitress. It is unwavering and pure, no matter what preposterous adventure may befall us. A sacred picture of Saint Anthony alone is one vertical, unwavering band of light. If a cockroach were near him, or a cocktail waitress, the picture would show two such bands of light. Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.”more
Prior to Breakfast of Champions, my exposure to Vonnegut was limited to a short story I'd read in middle school named "Harrison Bergeron." Though I cared little about literature then, I was engrossed by the style and message of that story, and my interest in Vonnegut has now been reignited, especially because Breakfast of Champions isn't even considered his best work. This book is crammed with so many creative ideas and stories that, had I not known it was written by the legendary Vonnegut, I would've assumed it was someone's singular novel. I'm not a fan of humor in literature, and I can't say Breakfast of Champions changed that, but it was still an entertaining, quick ride that induced many chuckles whilst proposing serious (albeit pessimistic and eccentric) answers to some of life's most interesting questions. Yes, the plot is tenuous and absurd, yet Vonnegut is at his best during his random divergences. Dwayne Hoover is a business mogul of decrepit Midland City. He's going insane. Kilgore Trout, Vonnegut's quirky alter-ego, is a sci-fi writer who doesn't get the respect he deserves. He's been called to Midland City for an arts festival. When the two meet, an eruption of sorts is bound to occur.Two elements make this even more distinct: Vonnegut's ink drawings and self-referential narration. Through simple but useful drawings, Vonnegut further enables himself to poke fun at how insane American culture and our goals have become. Only some of these criticisms are outdated, and even they are interesting to read. Moreover, I've not seen anything akin to Vonnegut's prominent role in the narration towards the end of the book, which compensates for the weak climax.Also deserving of a paragraph are the ingenious mini sci-fi stories Trout inspires. Many of them will no doubt be fleshed out by bored creative writing classes. Here's a snippet from one that exemplifies a, "tragic failure to communicate...A flying saucer creature named Zog arrived on Earth to explain how wars could be prevented and how cancer could be cured. He brought the information from Margo, a planet where the natives conversed by means of farts and tap dancing..."And yet, these are just a few examples of everything here. The scope of Vonnegut's sharp commentary is remarkable considering the length of the book, even if it's not particularly story-driven. I'm glad I took another dip with Vonnegut, whose writing remains fresh nearly forty years later. I'm beginning to understand why people were so sad when he passed away in 2007. This books affirms Vonnegut as a propulsive force in avant-garde literature. I only wish he were still around to give his take on the current state of the world.more
I liked the drawings in this book. I enjoyed this more than Slaughterhouse.more
Read all 62 reviews

Reviews

Wow. What a ride.more
test2: one of the best vonnegut booksmore
I only read this book(after so many disppointing other books)because K. Vonnegut PROMISED it was the last book he would write. I took him at his word and never read another. My life has been better for it.more
Breakfast of Champions: or Goodbye Blue Monday by Kurt Vonnegut is a dark comedy on racism, war, consumerism and greed in America during the 70’s. The book follows two loners, an unknown Sci-Fi writer named Kilgore Trout and a car dealer owner Dwayne Hoover. Both their lives are intertwined by one of the books written by Trout and read by the already plagued with “bad chemicals”, Dwayne Hoover. The book, which Hoover believed was factual, sent him into a violent rampage. Vonnegut is a master satirist and always manages to write some unusual stories, though comparing this to Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions comes up short. It was enjoyable to read, weird in a lot of parts (I really didn’t need to know everyone characters penis size), but overall worth the read.more
Kurt Vonnegut sobre sua literatura, em Breakfast of Champions:

"I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, with such abominable results: they were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books.
Why were so many Americans treated by their government as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tissues? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made-up tales.
And so on.
Once I understood what was making America such a dangerous, unhappy nation of people who had nothing to do with real life, I resolved to shun storytelling. I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, instead, which I think I have done.
If all writers would do that, then perhaps citizens not in the literary trades will understand that there is no order in the world around us, that we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead.
It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done."

Breakfast of Champions é uma sátira mordaz e brilhante sobre a vida na América. Um livro excelente.more
It's not nearly as cohesive as Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle. I saw half a dozen underlying messages but nothing that unified the whole other than the idea that everything is tied together in the oddest of ways. It left me in equal parts bemused and amused.

I was about to give this 3 stars when I started reading portions of it aloud to a co-worker during break. I was only going to read a paragraph or two but then the next paragraph was funny, then the next and the next and so on. I never did get a chance to go get a drink during my break. I spent it all laughing at Vonnegut. For the sake of yeast shit and sea pirates and their ability to make me laugh, I'll give it 4 stars instead.more
Vonnegut deliberately avoids resolution in this story, which might have seemed avaunt-garde and au courant back in 1974, but now it just makes me weary. Other than that nitpick, this is an enjoyable read -- but it doesn't stand up to the other KV books I've read. This book is more fun to read if you're familiar with the concept of the p-zombie ("philosophical zombie") before you read it.more
“He couldn't tell the difference between one politician and another. They were all formlessly enthusiastic chimpanzees to him.” It is said that author wrote this book for himself to mark his 50th birthday and that he was rather disappointed with it, well not me. The book revolves around to main characters Kilgore Trout, a sci-fi author whom no one has ever heard of bar one fan and certainly has made no money from his trade and Dwayne Hoover, a second hand car dealer who everyone seems to think has everything but who is slowly slipping into madness.This lovely book is full of wonderful satire as Vonnegut, with Kilgore Trout being an almost autobiographical figure, and takes a sideways swipe at the art of writing and American culture. Nothing seems to be off limits, racism, politics, green issues, crime and corruption, drug use and abuse, insanity, parenting to name but a few. The juxtaposition of the many ideas and sketches continually amazed and tickled me making me laugh out loud on more than one occasion.The prose is simple and easy to understand and once picked up this is a hard book to put down as you are never quite sure onto what tangent it will be leaping off onto next. Perhaps the ending is a little abrupt but all the same is still a very good read. He certainly managed to give me a new appreciation of 'beavers.'“Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.”more
through the years i've waded through novels on russian morality, american religion, french existentialism and chinese philosophy. this book...helped me put them in an ancient treasure chest of ideas and face the modern world :)this book leaps around in many directions, requiring your complete attention. as it progresses you will sometimes wonder wtf is going on, but fear not! there is light at the end of the tunnel. im prone to say this is his best work. certainly superior to Slaughterhouse 5.more
Breakfast of Champions is a great fun read. It's still hilarious years later and the drawings are insulting to the norm which only adds to the feel of the book. Poor Kilgore and crazy Dwayne are the main stars of this book. Mixed in are other minor characters, are interwoven together and even the author himself makes an appearance. I think if you try to read too much into a book like this you're going to get frustrated. Everything can have a double or triple meaning but just take it for what it is and you'll enjoy it. "You are on par with the Creator of the Universe."more
I have to admit, this book was probably AWESOME in the 70s, but it really hasn't held up very well. I understand the point of the "handbook for extra-terrestrials" style of the narrator, but it was so grating after a while that any of the subtext it hoped to provide was lost on me. I have a similar complaint about the drawings.I wanted to give this a 2, but I couldn't help but view it in the context of when it was written, so I feel a 2 1/2 is a fair compromise.more
A funny trek through the dangers of a creative mind.more
the best 'intersecting characters' story i've ever read.more
While I didn’t like this book as much as the short stories, I would still recommend it. Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘history’ of the U.S. while on the surface ‘tongue in cheek’ and rather simplistic, was quite accurate. He takes complex subjects and reduces them to the bare truth. In this book, everyone is as important as everyone else and we know everything about everyone. The book dips into bad chemicals (drugs?), pollution (cover up?), racism, suicide and pornography in the same manner as the history of the United States. It appears Mr. Vonnegut is making fun of people, while at the same time teaching us how to look below the surface, to see what is really happening around us.more
Always fun to read Kurt Vonnegut. As an author, he's right in there with his characters and whatever shreds of plot he has given them to act out. And I'm happy to be in there with him.more
This is my favourite book of all time, which is a massive statement to make, I love some other books........alot, but even amazing novels like The Savage Detectives, Love in the Time of Cholera, Rant, Sombrero Fallout or The Interrogation which are all 'Desert Island' books for me do not come close to the complete and utter enjoyment I get out of this novel. Why? Well, I am a huge Vonnegut fan and like most people when they come to Vonnegut I started on 'Slaughterhouse 5' and I thought it was pretty good, however it didn't inspire me to read another one of his novels, I didn't think it truly lived up to my expectations. About a year and a half after that a friend of mine, a massive Vonnegut fan told me that he agreed but I should read 'Breakfast of Champions'. So I went ok fine will do, he lent me his copy and I read it and I read it again, and again and so on and so on. I think I read it over eight times in a row and the entire time my brain was screaming at me "WTF! How did this happen!? How can you do everything that you are taught not to do in the writing of a novel and have it be this good!" This is a hilariously funny book, do not read it in public because you will laugh out loud and people will think your a crazy person. The style and format is bizarre, to say the least, but because of its complete insanity it underlines and reinforces the narrative beautifully. The characters are amazingly well drawn, and amazing in their own right, and the way you probably learn a bit to much about them, penis size for example, makes them realistic and human in a book that largely has the feel of being written by an alien observer writing a report on humanity. The illustrations are brilliant, for example the Nazi/ German one, I won't ruin it but you'll know it when you see it. The gratutious use of words that considered very politically incorrect is interesting because Vonnegut manages to steal away their power and make them harmless and inoffensive. This is an very socially aware book, and after reading it I am in awe of Kurt Vonnegut, he is a master and I believe this book is his masterpiece. There are alot of things I want to say but I really don't want to ruin the story. Let me just finish by saying that the last 30 or 40 pages of this novel are ridiculous (in a good way) and I think if any other author had attempted them it would have been painful and stupid, but instead Vonnegut leaves you you sitting there with a big silly grin, wondering what the hell just happened.....I encourge everybody to read this novel, you might hate it, I think I could even see why, but my advice is don't analyze it while your reading just grab a hold and enjoy the ride. Then later, well then try to figure out why you enjoyed yourself so damn much.more
One of the great trilogy of KV books (Slaughterhouse, Cat's, Breakfast). Kilgore Trout and used cars!more
I don't know how many books I've read by Vonnegut now but I'd guess around 10. This was by far my least favorite. There were a lot of specific lines I loved and kept going back and re-reading but as a book I found it slow and tedious. I've taken a break from Vonnegut and it's really too bad. He's a Socialist, he's funny and he's smart. What else do I want in a lover/author?more
Although I didn't care for this nearly as much as some of his other works, I must give Mr.Vonnegut credit for one thing he has Kilgore Trour say. When asked if he fears the future, Kilgore says, "it is the past which scares the bejesus out of me." That line skewered me and was worth the price of the book.more
This is one of the first titles anywhere hears associated with Vonnegut, and, in my limited knowledge of Vonnegut, I think that's a fine thing. It's a quintessential Vonnegut piece.more
No mistaking it, this is a Vonnegut book. To describe a plot would be hard, as it really just tells the story that leads to a car salesman (and entrepreneur) going a bit bonkers and hitting every one in sight. The book isn't even about the getting to the conclusion either, although the author makes it very clear how all the different characters, themes, and circumstances interrelate.Vonnegut just decides to crowbar in his opinions and attitudes to just about everything, and ties all the threads of a story around it. At times very funny, nearly always dark and bitterly sarcastic, it could not be faulted for lacking attitude.However, that said,I found it the least enjoyable Vonnegut bookI have read thus far. It didn't have the ironic and farcical lunacy of Slaughterhouse, it lacked the epic story and twisted hilarity of Sirens of Titan, and trotted along without the same crafted structure of doom that runs through Cat's cradle. It has touches of all these things and a few more besides, but just didn't quite do any of them as well as I had hoped.And so on...more
Vonnegut gives us a tale of madness in his usual loopy and hilarious style. Why not throw in a little art, racism, economic disparity and environmentalism? But beware: not all is lightness and satire here. Vonnegut can be as dark as he is funny. His own drawings are a bonus.more
If I were an author, I would find it very difficult to write a book that could be summed up as "Life is absurd." Because the plot and characters and situations themselves necessarily end up being absurd and meandering and not much fun to read. And that's how it is with Breakfast of Champions.If you liked J. Alfred Prufrock, you will love both Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover. Foils for one another, Kilgore is a struggling sci-fi writer and Dwayne is an unhinged widowed cars salesman. Each reacts in his own way to the desperation of the absurdity of life - Kilgore takes it more in stride and becomes an antagonist to the rest of the world, Dwayne ends up going on a rampage. It would be antithetical to the book to have too direct a plot, so it doesn't. Instead it's a slice of life type narrative, with situations all referring back to absurdity and pointlessness of life. Or, as Trout puts it, "I won't know myself until I find out whether *life* is serious or not. It's *dangerous,* I know, and it can hurt a lot. That doesn't necessarily mean it's *serious.*"more
Best passages:I think I am trying to make my head as empty as it was when I was born onto this damaged planet fifty years ago.I suspect that this is something most white Americans, and nonwhite Americans who imitate white Americans, should do. The things other people hae put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are offten useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head. I have no culture, no humane harmony in my brains. I can't live without a culture anymore.So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen hundred and twenty-two.I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. Whene I wasa boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent duringg the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden. Silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.p 15.1492The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already livingg full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them. p. 18Here was the core of bad ideas which Trout gave to Dwayne: Everybody on Earth was a robot, with one exception--Dwayne Hoover.Of all the creatures in the Universe, only Dwayne was thinking and feeling and worrying and planning and so on. Nobody else knew what pain was. Nobody else had any choices to make. Everybody else was a fully automatic machine, whose purposee was to stimulate Dwayne. Dwayne was a new type of creature being tested by the Creator of the Universe.Only Dwayne Hoover had free will.Trout did not expect to be believed. He put the bad ideas into a science-fiction novel, and that was where Dwayne found them. The book wasn't addressed to Dwayne alone. Trout had never heard of Dwayne when he wrote it. It was addressed to anybody, in effect, "Hey--gues what: You're the only create with free will. How does that make you feel? And so on.It was a tour de force. It was a jeu d'espirit.But it was mind poison to Dwayne.It shook up Trout to realize that even he could bring evil into the world--in the form of bad ideas. And, after Dwayne was carted off to a lunatic asylum in a canvas camisole, Trout became a fanatic on the importance of ideas as causes and cures for diseases. But nobody would listen to him. He was a dirty old man in the wilderness, crying out among the trees and underbrush, "Ideas or the lack of them can cause disease!"Kilgore Trout became a pioneer in the field of mental health. He advanced his theories disguised as science-fiction. He died in 1981, almost 20 years after he made Dwayne Hoover so sick.He was then recognized as a great artist and scientist. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences caused a monument to be erected over his ashes. Carved in its face was a quotation from his last novel, his two-hundred-and-ninth novel, which was unfinished when he died. The monument looked like this:Kilgore Trout 1907-1981"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane"p.23p172“I now give you my word of honor,” he went on, “that the picture your city owns shows everything about life which truly matters, with nothing left out. It is a picture of the awareness of every animal. It is the immaterial core of every animal—the “I am” to which all messages are sent. It is all that is alive in any of us—in a mouse, in a deer, in a cocktail waitress. It is unwavering and pure, no matter what preposterous adventure may befall us. A sacred picture of Saint Anthony alone is one vertical, unwavering band of light. If a cockroach were near him, or a cocktail waitress, the picture would show two such bands of light. Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.”more
Prior to Breakfast of Champions, my exposure to Vonnegut was limited to a short story I'd read in middle school named "Harrison Bergeron." Though I cared little about literature then, I was engrossed by the style and message of that story, and my interest in Vonnegut has now been reignited, especially because Breakfast of Champions isn't even considered his best work. This book is crammed with so many creative ideas and stories that, had I not known it was written by the legendary Vonnegut, I would've assumed it was someone's singular novel. I'm not a fan of humor in literature, and I can't say Breakfast of Champions changed that, but it was still an entertaining, quick ride that induced many chuckles whilst proposing serious (albeit pessimistic and eccentric) answers to some of life's most interesting questions. Yes, the plot is tenuous and absurd, yet Vonnegut is at his best during his random divergences. Dwayne Hoover is a business mogul of decrepit Midland City. He's going insane. Kilgore Trout, Vonnegut's quirky alter-ego, is a sci-fi writer who doesn't get the respect he deserves. He's been called to Midland City for an arts festival. When the two meet, an eruption of sorts is bound to occur.Two elements make this even more distinct: Vonnegut's ink drawings and self-referential narration. Through simple but useful drawings, Vonnegut further enables himself to poke fun at how insane American culture and our goals have become. Only some of these criticisms are outdated, and even they are interesting to read. Moreover, I've not seen anything akin to Vonnegut's prominent role in the narration towards the end of the book, which compensates for the weak climax.Also deserving of a paragraph are the ingenious mini sci-fi stories Trout inspires. Many of them will no doubt be fleshed out by bored creative writing classes. Here's a snippet from one that exemplifies a, "tragic failure to communicate...A flying saucer creature named Zog arrived on Earth to explain how wars could be prevented and how cancer could be cured. He brought the information from Margo, a planet where the natives conversed by means of farts and tap dancing..."And yet, these are just a few examples of everything here. The scope of Vonnegut's sharp commentary is remarkable considering the length of the book, even if it's not particularly story-driven. I'm glad I took another dip with Vonnegut, whose writing remains fresh nearly forty years later. I'm beginning to understand why people were so sad when he passed away in 2007. This books affirms Vonnegut as a propulsive force in avant-garde literature. I only wish he were still around to give his take on the current state of the world.more
I liked the drawings in this book. I enjoyed this more than Slaughterhouse.more
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