- Paperback: 303 pages
- Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; 59333rd edition (May 11, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385334206
- ISBN-13: 978-0385334204
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,386 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Breakfast of Champions: A Novel Paperback – May 11, 1999
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“Marvelous . . . [Vonnegut] wheels out all the complaints about America and makes them seem fresh, funny, outrageous, hateful and lovable.”—The New York Times
“Free-wheeling, wild and great . . . uniquely Vonnegut.”—Publishers Weekly
From the Inside Flap
Breakfast Of Champions is vintage Vonnegut. One of his favorite characters, aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. The result is murderously funny satire as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.
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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!
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.
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.
"The little machine from Tralfamadore, having delivered this message .... over a distance of one hundred and fifty thousand light years, bounded abruptly out of the courtyard and onto the beach outside. He killed himself out there. He took himself apart and threw his parts in all directions."
By the way, I did not see the typos in the Kindle edition about which there are so many complains! (Perhaps this a newer/ edited edition or I was too absorbed to notice!?
I’m convinced that it was the frustration of people classifying this book which clearly should be literature as sci-fi that pushed Vonnegut to created Kilgore Trout and avoid these motifs in the future. The fantastic elements of the book (which are in no way scientific, they merely serve to drive the narrative like the prophecy in MacBeth or the ghost in Hamlet do not make them less dramatic and more fantastic. They are dramas with some fantastic elements in them. Likewise The Sirens of Titan is at times a comedy, and times a drama; but never let the fantastic elements of the story make you lump it with the sci-fi and fantasy stuff out there.
If you liked any of Vonnegut’s other works you are bound to love this one. I daresay that along with Cat’s Craddle it might be one of the best first books of Vonnegut for someone unfamiliar with his work to read.