69 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Vonnegut at his most enjoyably incoherent,
This review is from: Breakfast of Champions: A Novel (Paperback)
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. has specialized in two types of novels. The first types are made up of sharp, witty tales that poke fun at humanity, while all the time keeping one eye on the plot. Both SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and MOTHER NIGHT are sterling examples.
The second type of Vonnegut novel is awkward and unusual in the extreme, often leaving the reader dazed, thumping his or her head on the floor in a vain attempt at comprehension. They are enjoyable, but their precise meaning continues to elude. TIMEQUAKE is a fine example. BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS is another.
BREAKFAST, to define some semblance of a plot, follows two main story threads. In the first, Vonnegut presents us with Dwayne Hoover, car-salesman extrordinaire, who is slowly and surely losing his mind. In the second, we have Vonnegut regular Kilgore Trout, the unemployed and unlikable science-fiction writer, who is hitch-hiking his way across the country to recieve a sizable award at an arts convention.
This is the plot, but Vonnegut adheres to it only in passing. In countless asides and divergences, Vonnegut explores sex, race, politics, sex, enviromental catastrophe, sex, aliens, robots, god, and sex. All this, plus numerous obscene doodles and an appearance from Vonnegut himself, bestowing wisdom upon his creations.
What, exactly, is Vonnegut trying to say? American culture is a vast wasteland of imbecility? People are generally self-centred and greedy, and above all, not nice? As a culture, America is doomed to die in its own sewage? The answer to all would seem to be yes. Vonnegut has often had a core of anger in his writings, and BREAKFAST is perhaps his angriest.
But BREAKFAST is not simply a gloomy discussion of the end of us all. Vonnegut is far too wise to dwell on man's foibles for long. He continues on his merry way, drawing our attention to this event and that one, all the while reminding us that perhaps Dwayne Hoover is correct: We ARE all robots, grinding our gears, fulfilling our functions, not considering any sorts of consequences.
An astonishing thing has just happened: While penning this review, I realized just how much I enjoyed the book. It was confusing, bizarre, and often irritating. But many of Vonnegut's themes have remained in my consciousness, continuing to dispense nuggets of thought to my often-addled brain. If that isn't the mark of a memorable novel, I don't know what is.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 3, 2012 2:12:59 AM PDT
I was about to write a review, but then came across yours. This is _exactly_ how I felt. Except I would have given it 5 stars on account of its sheer "un-ratability."
Posted on Jan 25, 2014 2:22:21 AM PST
A very well written review... I actually finished it. Thank you
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