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Breakfast of Champions: A Novel Paperback – Illustrated, May 11, 1999
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“Free-wheeling, wild and great . . . uniquely Vonnegut.”—Publishers Weekly
From the Inside Flap
- Publisher : Dial Press Trade Paperback; Illustrated edition (May 11, 1999)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 303 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385334206
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385334204
- Lexile measure : 930L
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.3 x 0.65 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #13,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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When it comes to fiction, that should really be the only litmus test: "was it entertaining" and for better or for worse reading Vonnegut's and Hoover's break down into the realm of mental insanity was beautifully entertaining.
Never mind the critics and the stuffy academic thesis's of scholars. Read it because it's funny and entertaining.
My first reading was close to the publication and I mostly enjoyed his almost despair about war and life in general. What had attracted me to his work was the book Cat's Cradle, which described a science indifferent to the harm it could do and people unable to stop themselves from ending the world....yet a foolish religion, based on lies, helped.
Breakfast of Champions is more experimental. The author is present in the text with the power to lead his characters into suffering and participate in the consequences. The book is full of drawings, which the reader in the audio book ably describes. It is also full of explanations of very common things and slogans from advertising. The hint of Pop Art emerges.
The N. word, which today is worse that any other swearing sexual or otherwise, is used frequently. This is jarring....but probably reflects to time of the story. The problems of racism, insanity, planet destruction, misuse of jails, even a gay son for a central character are all a part of the mix. Except for the N. word.....it remains timely.
The climax of the story happens in a restaurant where the author's heart is opened by a speech by an avante garde artist whose peculiar looking expensive artwork......is really about human dignity. That's what's great about Kurt Vonnegut books. In the mess of the world, he understands and expresses the reality of grace and human dignity. Hope without a lot of evidence. I like it!
This book also stars Kilgore Trout, who before being honored by Eliot Rosewater is nowhere famous.
Actually, Trout is famous because the writer who created him, Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut is famous, and he wrote this book. Vonnegut is also a character in the book, and he knows that he is writing it.
Vonnegut makes Hoover, Trout, and Rosewater his puppets. It is a fun breaking of third and fourth walls, almost metafictive, and it doesn’t make you feel like Vonnegut is trying to say “Look how clever I am” because he really is clever. In an understated way. All the characters come together for a thing that happens. I won’t spoil it for you.
I first read this when I was in my early 20s. I lay on full-sized mattress as the springs poked me through the cheap foam pad, and I was deep in Vonnegut’s world. The time passed too fast. I read it again this weekend, after a dozen years or so. The only difference is that I sat up for the most part, on a comfortable couch I own. That, and I appreciated the drawings differently (There are a number of drawings). The younger version of me liked them because they were a bit risqué. Older me wanted each new drawing to be a new tattoo.
Top reviews from other countries
An ecological warning clad in the garb of a straightjacketed tale as two men are drawn into a destiny of collision and combustion. Kilgore Trout (for it is he, the world's greatest writer) travels across America to ignite the dry straw of madness in one Dwayne Hoover, Pontiac salesman and possibly the world's sole possessor of free will.
Racism, pollution, opencast mining, consumerism and the pursuit of the buck (not to mention the average size of the penis) bubble in the pot of Vonnegut's unique brew. Ahead of its time and as good as he gets, just buy the ticket and climb aboard this magical ride on the meta bus. And if you choose not to then it matters little; you're all already on it.
This is an ambitious novel that sets itself at odds with classic narrative structure. It contains stories within stories within stories, all of which do speak to each other nicely.
It's a great journey, even if you and Vonnegut aren't sure where it's headed.
Good, fun, book with some fantastic quotes in it.
It provides a satirical look at modern (well, modern-ish) American culture and holds nothing sacred. Lies told to children in the name of 'education', the American national anthem, the figures of women, modern art, business practices, authors, social standing, penis size and a whole host of other taboos are attacked and pulled apart in the most amusing way.
Like all good comedians, Vonnegut uses humour and simplicity to deliver profound insights that are are immediately recognised for what they are.
I know not everyone agrees - so if you want a 'story' and 'realistic characters' then this is not for you. If you want an amusing satire that will make you chuckle then this book may be up your street. I definitely enjoyed it.