Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

eBook - 2010
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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.
Publisher: [United States] :, RosettaBooks :, 2010.
ISBN: 9780795311956
Branch Call Number: eBook hoopla
Characteristics: 1 online resource
data file, rda
Alternative Title: hoopla (Digital media service)


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JCLChrisK May 31, 2018

Delightfully off-kilter. A collection of bitingly satirical social commentary thoughts loosely strung together with a plot that is intentionally splintered. Crude and sad and insightful.

"I think I am trying to clear my head of all the junk in there. . . .

"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 have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head. . . .

"So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel."

That junk just happens to be highly relevant to current circumstances, nearly 50 years after first written. We need to continue the efforts to empty our heads.

Kilgore Trout is the poster child for the disillusioned man; a spokesperson for the mid-life crisis set. Vonnegut uses him effectively to skewer everything we believed in as idealistic youths. Patriotism, the American Dream, Sex, Love, Money and dozens of sacred cows fall before his satirical pen. Warning: Don't read this until you're 40 (maybe not even then) or it will ruin life's punch-line.

JCLJoshN Dec 15, 2016

I'm in awe at the way Kurt Vonnegut can be so savage and dark when it comes to our society while also showing love and kindness when it comes to individual people, even (especially) the ones leading messy, complicated lives. I'm also in awe of how he can be extremely juvenile in his humor while being sophisticated (but not pretentious) in using metafiction. This book is absolutely scathing while also being an invigorating breath of fresh air.

Apr 26, 2016

Vonnegut is a genius!

Aug 17, 2015

As a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and similar books, I absolutely loved Vonnegut's style of writing. A simple plot, with millions of funny, quirky, and interesting facts and opinions of the world around us stuffed in. I could not put down this book, and found myself laughing and sharing passages with my family all throughout the book - I would definitely recommend it (especially if you like Douglas Adams)!

Jul 01, 2015

One of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut books.

lavi_1 Apr 22, 2015

Dark, funny and witty. Loved it!

Mar 17, 2015

This is not a genre that I usually enjoy but once I started reading this book I was held enthralled. Unmistakable satire combined with fresh characters keeps the pace lively. The one statement the author made, which I couldn't agree with more though is, "Science fiction writers know nothing about science." Obviously Vonnegut is speaking tongue in cheek here.

LibrarianJDN Sep 09, 2013

A wonderful work; one of the first books that truly engaged me at a young age.

Jan 23, 2013

Snarky, hilarious, depressing, and cynical. With an odd story about two quirky, unstable souls, Vonnegut gives an entertaining look at the (still valid in 2013) problems with American culture. I enjoyed it for the heart from which it came.

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Jan 23, 2013

And I think now, as my fiftieth birthday draws near, about the American novelist Thomas Wolfe, who was only thirty-eight years old when he died. He got a lot of help in organizing his novels from Maxwell Perkins, his editor at Charles Scribner's Sons. I have heard that Perkins told him to keep in mind as he wrote, a unifying idea, a hero's search for a father.

It seems to me that really truthful American novels would have the heroes and heroines alike looking for <i>mothers</i> instead. This needn't be embarrassing. It's simply true.

A mother is more useful.

I wouldn't feel particularly good if I found another father. Neither would Dwayne Hoover. Neither would Kilgore Trout.

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