Breakfast of Champions

 
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"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane." So reads the tombstone of downtrodden writer Kilgore Trout, but we have no doubt who's really talking: his alter ego Kurt Vonnegut. Health versus sickness, humanity versus inhumanity--both sets of ideas bounce through this challenging and funny book. As with the rest of Vonnegut's pure fantasy, it lacks the shimmering, fact-fueled rage that illuminates Slaughterhouse-Five. At the same time, that makes this book perhaps more enjoyable to read.

Breakfast of Champions is a slippery, lucid, bleakly humorous jaunt through (sick? inhumane?) America circa 1973, with Vonnegut acting as our Virgil-like companion. The book follows its main character, auto-dealing solid-citizen Dwayne Hoover, down into madness, a condition brought on by the work of the aforementioned Kilgore Trout. As Dwayne cracks, then crumbles, Breakfast of Champions coolly shows the effects his dementia has on the web of characters surrounding him. It's not much of a plot, but it's enough for Vonnegut to air unique opinions on America, sex, war, love, and all of his other pet topics--you know, the only ones that really count.

Dwayne Hoover, a Midwestern automobile salesman with a troubled marriage meets Vonnegut's famous character, the hack writer, Kilgore Trout, on the eve of Trout's receiving the Nobel Prize. Filmed in 1998 with Bruce Willis, this is another of Vonnegut's savage satires of middle american values and their racketeering.

Customer Reviews:

  • A dying planet never seemed like so much fun
    Using his unique style, Vonnegut tells the galaxy about our dying planet. He sees it as a hideous mess of robotic creatures programmed to destroy themselves, specifically through destruction by American capitalism and racism. At times this does seem a bit cliche, but his style is anything but. It's funny, original, and at times very personal.

    The best parts of the book are when he literally draws himself into the story. He tries to be a good God to his characters, but seems to fail as our Creator must have. It's not as good as Slaughter House Five, but his shocking style is in strong form.

    For those who want to pick up the audio version for the Vonnegut interview- don't. In the beginning of the interview Vonnegut and his interviewer both reveal that they havent read the book in a while, then proceed to talk about completely unrelated topics which go nowhere. Tucci does a fine job of reading though....more info
  • Listen: This is a one-of-a-kind book.
    The first Vonnegut book i read was Slaughterhouse-five, then Cats Cradle, and i have to say, breakfast of champions is just as good. I read breakfast of champions in one night, the second i picked it up i could not put it down. Kurts prose is so unlike any other author, although i did find som similarities between this book and Sluaughterhouse-Five. The way he reapeats certain phrases to get them stuck in your head or just to create an overall feeling, in SH-5 it was "so it goes" diminishing the impact of death on the reader for the insight that that person is not really dead but just ina bad place at that moment. And in Breakfast of champions he often end paragraphs with "and so on" which he himself makes note of in the the book, because like the plastic material that permeates the creek in his book and life in general it just keeps going on an on and on and so on, for ever and ever and ever ECT....more info
  • Perfect reading for the trying times in life
    I learned tonight of Kurt Vonnegut's passing, at age 84. I immediately thought of this book, Breakfast of Champions, as the quintessential Vonnegut novel -- not just for what is on the page, but moreso for what it meant to me, especially when I read it for the first time so many years ago.

    It was 1979, just six years after he wrote Breakfast, and I was 15, a callow and precocious and dependable and rebellious lad, all at once in those crazy mid-adolescent years. And no one's words spoke quite as eloquently or directly to my fevered brain as did this aging, iconoclastic, sublimely inventive and imaginative author. He was only two years older than my father, and yet light years different in terms of his world view and humor. And to me, this out-of-left-field novel, about banal, blase and boring car salesman Dwayne Hooper and his sudden awakening and transformation into someone so much more complex, is brilliant absudist humor.

    I think even the oft-derided cartoon drawings Vonnegut peppers his writings with -- and he uses them liberally throughout Breakfast -- work to perfection here. Vonnegut's drawings deftly set the tone and constantly remind the reader that this is not the overstuffed, pretentious stuff of Mailer or Vidal or any of Vonnegut's other contemporaries.

    Re-reading Breakfast a few years ago, I couldn't help but think that an adolescent of today might consider the style almost quaint, considering how much snark and absurdist humor has permeated popular culture over the last 20 or 30 years. To some, I guess the discerning minority, it would be as powerful today as it was more than 30 years ago. There is humor that makes you laugh, and then there are works that also make you think and help expand your horizons to boot. To me, Breakfast of Champions is that kind of brilliance.

    I found it deliciously ironic that it was my father's copy of Breakfast that I had swiped all those many years ago, a copy he never opened as far as I know, but a copy that still sits in my library to this day. I loved my father then as I do now, but at age 15 was discovering (as all boys do) that he was not the perfect hero I imagined when I was 6 or 7. Reading Vonnegut's brilliant, out-there work helped put in stark relief that there were so many different ideas and experiences and universes than the suburbia in which I'd grown up. And that was fine by me. Farewell, Kurt, and thanks for sharing your brilliance; I for one will miss it....more info
  • A Fun & Easy Read
    This book is perfect for reading in short bursts whenever you have a minute. It's broken up into so many small sections that you can practically start and stop on any page without losing your place. It has a rambling plot that presents an interestingly different viewpoint of the world around us....more info
  • And so on. And so on.
    As to why Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. would think we, the gentle readers, would be interested in the measurements of his penis and the fictional penises of his fictional characters is the greatest mystery of this title, perhaps of the malevolent universe. And so on. Billed as a novel, "Breakfast of Champions" is more a collection of socio-economic rantings than an actual work of fiction. Not that I blame Kurt... His tidy little, astute essays in "In These Times" are quickly forgotten by the public. But, his ideas in his novels will be around for several more years. Don't get me wrong. Ideas don't really make a difference. Really mean people with killing machines make a difference. But, what would I know, being merely a meat robot devoid of free will put here for the amusement of my creator. I give the book one star for literary style, five stars for ideas, and an overall average three stars because it is printed in English in nice type. And so it goes....more info
  • Not Vonnegut's Best Work
    I'm definitely a Vonnegut fan, and despite my lack-luster review of this book, it was not enough to detour me from reading more of him. However, this one just didn't hold my interest in the same manner as his others. Yes, Vonnegut delivers satirical social commentary, but for me, it was at a much slower, more disguised pace than his norm. I was not compelled to read the book in one fell swoop as I normally am with a Vonnegut book....more info
  • Please, don't over look this read
    Firstly, no one here is trying to insult one another's intelligence. We're all friends. But I have to say, I believe people who have been posting that Vonnegut is "racist" in this book have seriously not delved the slightest bit into what this man is trying to get across. It seems these people believe that any use of the word "nigger" in a novel promots racism. This man is telling a story the way he choses to tell it, you cannot decide his writing reflects his own personal beliefs. But all that aside, Vonnegut is using his quick, out of the blue phrases to breakdown what seems so complex in society today, hes anti-philosophical, not trying to elaborate into the wild blue yonder, but simplfy things into human, man to man terms. His writings in this book are often an attempt to put racisim in a light that seems ignorant, and nonsensical, which is exactly what racism is! Please try and seem, this is one of the greatest authors of our time, and I really enjoyed this book. Hope you do too...more info
  • one of the most astonishing books I ever read
    I was a bookworm since I learned how to read books at 7. I read Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions" the first time when I was still a teen (in Polish translation) and this book was probably the most astonishing I ever read in my life. Funny (but also bitter), interesting, easy to read, even had some author pictures, sometimes strangely related to the text. But on the other hand, this book really make you think - about the world, about our civilization and where it is heading, about the people and their strange ways, about America.

    When I first read the book I was still in communistic Poland, so I saw some of the problems the author was talking about as a part of the western civilization. Now after I read it again, I see so much mild critique of excesses of America's life. I live in America ~ 10 years so it is normal that for me America would be always something different than my home country or Europe. I am amazed that Vonnegut still can look at America from the position of the external observer, who still can see some absurdity in many aspects of life.

    In spite of his critique of the world, country and society Vonnegut loves people, he loves them with all their weakness and defects. His books have great educational value.

    ...more info
  • Vonnegut's best work although he dosn't think so himself.
    This is the "Mad Magazine" Vonnegut, and if you have little use for that particular publication then you should read Player Piano or Slaughterhouse 5 instead of this book. The plot is quite simple on the face of it, a man going mad and the people he interacts with at a particular moment in time. The subplot is the authors musings on "life, the universe, and everything and how he is making a "balls" out of writing the novel your reading.

    It's a damned clever idea, and it works quite well, even if the author didn't seem to think so at the time. Much has been said about the "babytalk" and crude drawings that fill the book, one gets a sence that the author is going through a chardic experience while writing the book, ( as Vonnegut admits himself to one of the major charaters in the book at the end, ), this chardic experience we share with the author as we seemingly experience along with him a "suprise" ending that was forshadowed virtually from the opening page...we see the end playing out as outlined but as events often do, they sprial out of the authors hand and drag the story to unplanned and unexpected events. Vonnegut himself seems to loose control of the situation towards the end, but he quickly re asserts himself for the final few pages in a funny yet profound way.

    The book is a product of it's times, I call it a product of my times because I grew up in the period. In many ways the world has changed dramatically since then, so some observations tend to "jar" younger readers, like Mark Twain at his creative best, he is a mirror of his times, and as such some fine social satire is lost to modern audiences.

    Mr. Vonnegut uses some mild "bad language" in the book, as much to make fun of the subject as to mildly shock the reader. this is in the same sort of vein as a George Carlin comedy routine and not because the author actually believes such terms should be used to offend someone..indeed, he uses these "offensive terms" in such a way to remove their "special power" they have over our language...they color the dialog in a disarming way, which only the most skilled of writers can acomplish.

    Breakfast of Champions is more than a 50'th birthday present for the author, it is a gift from him to us as a reader. This book is so many things skillfully blended together in satire and witt that I doub't even the author can list them all, which is a good thing really, since it keeps us comming back for the ocasional read years after we first experienced his work the first time.

    This is on my shortlist of great "novels", this is a book I would never let leave my library unless it takes a place next to my chair or bedside...if you find Monty Python funny, George Carlin a great social commentator, and Mark Twain a master of the written word you should like this book, but read it at face value first before you search for hidden meanings and rye observations, and it will soon be something you will savor again again in repeated readings....more info
  • You Never Know What to Expect Next
    This book is probably one of the best pieces of literature I have ever read. The ability of the author to go back and forth between characters seemlessley is impeccable and can never be duplicated by another.
    The idea behind Breakfast of Champions is a conflict between two main characters, Kilgore Trout & Dwayne Hoover, both with seemingly separate lives and completely different views on life, but once their paths are crossed, their lives change forever.
    In the beginning, a description of the characters are offered with extensive background information all leading up to their lives at the present and how in some way, shape, or form, they both rely on eachother for sanity. The author then goes even further to describe how their present life predicaments are affecting their outlooks on life and their performence both sexually and mentally are changing with every breath they take.
    Vonnegut goes back and forth between voices, a pious & omniscient figure to becoming either both or one of the main characters, al done seemlessly and impeccably.
    Kilgore Trout writes stories that the author comes up with which are then transduced as being sources of porographic ideas and Dwayne Hoover is a man who is beoming more and more psychotic everyday, he is losing his grip on reality and with the coming of Kilgore Trout to an art convention that Dwayne is also attending, Trout's stories, specifically one about all people being pre-set robots, causes Dwayne to snap and go on a rampage harming those who are most closest to him as well as people who need to be harmed, but still have no right to be harmed by Dwayne.
    If anything, this book is a masterpiece and a work of art and I would recommend this book to all whose mind is as twisted and confusing as the author's, as well as someone who can put up with consistent references to the male genitalia, as grotesque as it might become....more info
  • "My favorite from Vonnegut"
    Purely and simply the funniest book I have ever read, however be prepared for some pretty extreme racism. But don't worry there are plenty of little treats in this one for everybody. I promise you will "laugh out load" at least five times. At least. It was the softer side to this story that I was not expecting, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless and turned the book into a true masterpiece. What caught my eye is when Vonnegut places himself into the story and talks about his suicidal mother, and his farewell to Kilgore Trout at the end which is surprisingly emotional, but wickedly fun. Here is a sneak preview of a passage I want to share with you that grabbed me when I read it.(which is thrown in very unexpectedly I might add)

    "This is a very bad book you're writing," I said to myself behind my leaks.(glasses) "I know," I said. "You're afraid you'll kill yourself the way your mother did," I said. "I know," I said.

    This is Vonnegut letting loose some pretty dark demons in his life at the time. He wrote this book as a gift to himself for his 50th birthday. And for all the great fiction he has written over the years that we have grown to love, that passage was his heart and soul, not fiction. I guess he needed to get that off his chest.

    I'm glad he did.

    And so on.

    Anyway, this is without a doubt a great book on many different levels (if you can get by the racism) from beginning to end. I loved it. Oh, I almost forgot, the pictures are great too.

    Enjoy. ...more info
  • This book is a work of art...
    It is not popular art, so it isn't meant to appeal to everyone. It didn't paricularaly speak to me, which doesn't make it bad art, but it doesn't make it good art either. It really seems (by Vonnegut's outright admission) to be written largely for the author's own benefit. The problem with believing that is you're never quite sure when to take Vonnegut at face value. That is a lot of the fun of Vonnegut; reading his books puts you into a state of uncertainty that is unfamiliar and stimulating - it's also disquieting.

    Vonnegut has said this isn't one of his favorite novels he wrote. It isn't one of my favorite Vonnegut novels either. That said, it gives you an interesting glimpse into the mind of a disturbed genius....more info
  • You Have To Get It
    I've seen a lot of luke warm and downright negative responses so I had to add my own review. Let me just say. . .you have to "get it." If you do not appreciate sarcasm, satire, and brutal honestey then you don't need to pick up a Vonnegut book. Admittedly they are not for everyone, but for those of us who find ourselves delighted with Vonnegut's simple, in your face style his books become like potato chips; you can never just have one. ...more info
  • Not as Good as I Remember
    I first read this in 1997 at the age of 25 and thought this book was funny and brilliant. I reread it again a few days ago and now think that it is just "pretty good". It seems dated in some areas and in others it does not seem very "deep" at all. For instance Vonnegut gives this very childish definition of capitalism as being very unfair and communism as being the most rational form of an economy. He wants us to think that if we all looked at complex social processes like children we would all see that we should switch to communism because everyone shares (even though everyone including Vonnegut himself) should know that this is impossible. I also do not understand why he keeps on telling me the measurements of some of his characters. Maybe it was funny 8 years ago but after he does this in the novel twice it is no longer really funny and he gives measeurements of characters about 30-40 times. If you are under 30 years old and politically liberal you will love this book otherwise I would not recommend it....more info
  • Vonnegut is the Best!!!
    Vonnegut has one of the most original writing styles out there...and Breakfast of Champions is one of his best. This book is worth it for the drawings alone - which make it utterly unique and playfully genius.

    If you're a Vonnegut fan and haven't read this yet, you're in for a treat. And if you're looking for another good book to read after BoC, check out National Darkroast Day.

    ...more info
  • Excellent Novel!
    As an avid fan of Kurt Vonnegut, I love all the novels I have ever read by him. However, Breakfast of Champions stands out above and beyond as my favorite. Complete with Vonnegut's classic, almost childish drawings and an appearance by the author himself, this book is truly amazing. Vonnegut tells it all like it is, from Thomas Jefferson to Christopher Columbus. This book truly is a rare masterpiece from beginning to end, and I would greatly recommend it for anyone who likes to have a good, honest laugh at life and all its ups and downs....more info
  • Forgettable yet entertaining
    This is the third Vonnegut I have read and I still can't figure out if I like the guy or not.

    It is a story(or is it?) about two insane lunatics who eventually cross paths. One of these men is a science fiction writer named Kilgore Trout who can only get his work published as filler for pornography magazines. The other is a wealthy widower who goes on a rampage because of Trout at the end of the story. I'm not giving anything away by telling you this because Vonnegut tells you himself at the begining of the book.

    The book is quick and simple to read, vulgar and laugh-out-loud funny. It features crude drawings by Vonnegut and introduces many of its male characters by revealing the length and width of their penises. It certainly is entertaining in a Farlly brothers kind of way but is it literature as many regard it? I guess it could be a judgement on our culture but I certainly don't think he deserves the same respect as Thomas Hardy or Mark Twain. His books really don't stay with me like Hardy's or Twain's do. The only time I really recall them is when I see them sitting on my book shelf and think, ...more info
  • Poignant
    The mechanism is brilliant: if we are machines, so what do you care if somebody starts to kill us? But if we aren't... If each one of us has free will... If I'm the only being in this Earth with real free will, Vonnegut has done a good job in trying to convince me that this is not the case. A real Humanist. Thank you....more info
  • Disappointed
    I feel I must be missing something as there are so many positive reviews for this book. I did not even finish it. All of the reviews say it is smart and funny. I suppose I'm not bright enough and don't have the sense of humor it takes to appreciate this book. To me, it appears to be nonsensical stream of consciousness dribble. Just writing with no real clear direction or organization. I am a fan of Vonnegut's other works. Unfortunately, this one was not for me. I'm not sure what others saw in it that I didn't. Maybe they're just very loyal to Vonnegut. I don't know. I cannot recommend this book. ...more info
  • farting and tap dancing
    This was an odd book. The author introduces himself as a character in his book about 2/3 of the way through and gives away the ending to his own story. Bizarre to say the least, and at first glance, I was inclined to think of it as a cheap narrative device, particularly after reading Cat's Cradle, which was a fantastic story. However, I came to realise that the author *was* a part of the story, offering his views and emotions on subjects as widely-varying as American intervention in wars overseas (he might as well have been writing about Iraq), death of family members, insanity, one's mortality, sex. And so on. The author is himself a part of the story with much to add on these topics, but he relegates himself to a secondary role behind Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover.

    The most notable character to me, though, was Zog, the farting and tap dancing space alien. WTF?
    ...more info
  • very enjoyable
    It was a delight to read. Most of his stuff is. if you like his style in other books, you will probably like this as well....more info
  • No longer relevant
    This review is for the audio CD version of the novel. I read the book for the first time 20+ years ago. At the time, we lived in a different world. As a teenager, I thought Vonnegut was cool, and I devoured this novel. 20+ years later, I can no longer stomach it. Back when it was hip to bash American and all it stands for, this book seemed important. I can see now that it is not. Don't bother reading this....more info
  • very entertaining and moving!
    This book has a lot of extremely offensive language. Once you get past that, the story is a wonderful mix of humor and real human insight. It helped me appreciate life.

    I highly recommend watching it WITH the movie--like, read the book, then immediately watch the movie, then watch the movie again while holding the book in front of you. It's even better if you can listen to the Flaming Lips at the same time. No, really, I'm serious, try it!...more info
  • Good
    This book is classic Vonnegut. It is fun to read and has great satire. It isn't very grabbing as some other stories are and there is not much plot but it is still a great read....more info
  • my 2nd favorite vonnegut book.
    years ago, on NPR i believe, i heard someone put this book down as an exception to vonnegut's otherwise fine books. I felt stupid hearing that, because i always thought this was my 2nd favorite vonnegut book (after slaugherhouse-five). so I went back and read it again, and I WAS RIGHT; this is my 2nd favorite vonnegut book. and this is a very funny book, if you have a mind tuned to the finer, darker, dryer side of humor, that is. people without a very keen sense of humor will probably not get it, it is above them. or rather their brains will not tune in the frequency on which this kind of humour rides. anyway, this is a great book, which needs no synopsis rehash here from me. if you have a discriminating sense of humor & a weariness with the way people are handling this earth, then this is a must for your soul.
    ...more info
  • Unique and enjoyable if a little slight
    This is the first Vonnegut novel I have ever read, and I picked it up not knowing quite what to expect. This novel plumbs the psyches of a couple relatively twisted characters and brings them into contact with each other through some nice plot machinations. There is a cloud over this novel. A sense of foreboding is spurred on by the Author's dropping multiple hints and suggestions as to the unpleasantness that is about to occur towards the end of the novel. Daily life in America, particularly the Midwest, is skewered relentlessly as the Author tackles issues of bigotry, violence, stardom, and the corrosive nature of secrets. He also liberally sprinkles thought provoking Sci-Fi tidbits throughout in the guise of his main character's novels and book ideas. This book reminded me a little of both Fight Club and American Psycho, in that the main characters are almost irredeemably crazy and getting more so, yet they continue on with their lives, tainting people they meet while wandering through an almost oblivious world. At times the satire is laid on thick, and there can be a heavy hand when various social ills are expounded upon over and over again. I also found the book to be more thought provoking and disturbing than comical, which is not a criticism. I will read more by Vonnegut based on my experience here....more info
  • Not his best (in my opinion)
    Although this book has it's high points, like Vonnegut's humorous observations about America, it isn't as good as Cat's Cradle or Slaugherhouse-Five. The reason for this is because the author literally tells you how the book ends, numerous times. Very disappointing....more info
  • I agree with the other 1 star reviews.
    Despite what others would have me believe, I do not remember chuckling, much less laughing, at any moment while reading this book. I just kept patiently waiting for a story, or even a point, to surface, but after finishing the Epilogue I didn't find either....more info
  • Breakfast Of Champions
    Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut *****

    Breakfast Of Champions is satire at it's all time best, and Breakfast of Champions is Kurt Vonnegut's all time best, the only other novel of his to even come close is Slaughterhouse-Five. Which is a must read. But as I was saying, BoC is a not so subtle comment on the social structure of America in the early 1970's, but what is so amazing, much like with Orwel's Nineteen Eighty Four, and Huxleys Brave New World, is that this is more relevant now then it was thirty-forty years ago. His take on war, racism, and politics strips them of their importance and breaks them to their core and makes you realize how much energy and time we spend on these things. He does the same with Sex, and success, and material goods as well.

    As for the story itself, it is a strange one, and one that is at sometimes hard to follow, or it would be at least if it weren't for the excellent drawings depicting what is currently happening in the story. Yes this has pictures but it is in no way a graphic novel in the technical since. As Killgore Trout a novelist makes his way to a arts rally across the country he finds himself face to face with a man named Dwayne who believes his storys are true and has become a psychopath because of it. It only gets weirder from there.

    The book is not tired or a strain to read ever, it is one of the most enjoyable reads I have ever had, and I would go so far as to say that Breakfast Of Champions is one of my top five books of all time....more info
  • Classic Vonnegut
    My favorite part about this book are the drawing by Vonnegut that you find through out the book. "Breakfast of Champions" is classic Vonnegut and with the exception of the drawings, is a great lismus test for reads who are curious with whether or not they will like Vonnegut. However, do NOT watch the movie as it is terrible. Enjoy the book....more info
  • Everybody needs to read a book with pictures now and then
    Although this novel was at times childish, shocking, humorous, and perhaps even a bit disturbing, I think Vonnegut effectively conveyed his feelings concerning the more peculiar social fixations and oddities that are prevalent in our time. However, what moved me most out of all of Vonnegut's blatant strikes were his remarks concerning the value of characters in literature. Of course, almost anybody reading this book can pick out a few characters who they consider to be "main" or key characters consistently throughout the novel, but Vonnegut raises the question of the equality of characters in a novel. While Vonnegut was not completely successful in blurring the status of the main characters in his novel, I felt like his attempt at creating his supporting characters as equals was well done and I commend him for it. I'm sure Vonnegut realizes that a story in which all characters are equal in detail/depth/development would destroy the staggered levels of complexity that make literature so fascinating, but raising the question in really caused me to stop and think. Vonnegut's illustrations prove why he's a writer rather than an artist, but I guess I appreciate how the drawings made the pages go by more quickly....more info
  • Thought-provoking...
    Breakfast of Champions reads as a fresh work, considering today's political climate. It is a very anti-American novel and, depending how you voted in the last election, you will either love it or hate it. The plot concerns a science fiction author, Kilgore Trout (a pun on real-life author Theodore Sturgeon), and a car dealer named Dwayne Hoover. Hoover is going out of his mind and - after reading one of Trout's books - comes to believe that he is the only person in the world who isn't a robot.

    This is an experimental novel. Vonnegut writes himself into the book and fills it with crude illustrations. It is funny, biased, and thought-provoking look on American society. It doesn't have a traditional "beginning, middle, and end." Vonnegut expressly states that he disdains traditional fiction writing because it makes people believe that they should act like characters in books. It is difficult to imagine agreeing with Breakfast of Champions one-hundred-percent, but it will give you plenty to think about.

    ...more info
  • Great Satire
    I usually take forever to finish books (I'll start another one in the middle of one or just lose interest) but I read this one straight through cover to cover. Vonnegut is a brilliant satirist and this book had me laughing throughout. This book inspired me to buy Slaughterhouse Five which I hope to get around to reading soon....more info
  • for time travelers from the distant future; also space aliens
    "What did you learn from this book?" That human beings are strange, unpredictable creatures capable of great love, great hate, lust, estrangement, (in)sanity, passion, art, Drano drinking, car sales, racism, and redemption. Also, sometimes they act like something on their bodies that looks like this:

    *

    (If Infinite Jest is an oak, Breakfast of Champions is its acorn.)...more info
  • Breakfast of Champions
    A beautiful journey through irregularity, Breakfast of Champions takes classic Kurt Vonnegut and combines it with a twisting plot line. ...more info
  • Martini, Please...
    This was my first Vonnegut experience, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed...I've got a lot of the book marked with parts I especially loved. I'm going to read plenty more of his stuff now too. This is probably one of the best books I've ever read, and I've read literally thousands of books. It's easy to read, but the story and the premise are a little unusual. That's one of my favorite things about it. If you've never read Vonnegut, this is a good place to start....more info
  • And So On.....
    This book is terrific satire and a joy to read, however, you must be willing to fore go the need for a single central character or a tidy ending. At the halfway point of the novel the narrative focus shifts from the main characters to the narrator himself. The book becomes some what autobiographical at this point in the novel, as Vonnegut opens up about his philosophy, background and the characters of his novels. It could be argued that this is a more effective technique if the reader is familiar with the Vonnegut oeuvre, however, I don't think it's necessary to read his other books to enjoy 'Breakfast of Champions'.
    ...more info
  • My first Vonnegut experience
    Breakfast of Champions is my first experience with Mr. Vonnegut, whom many of my friends think is one of the best writers ever. I chose Breakfast of Champions because I liked the title - I liked it even more when I learned that it was in reference to martinis. Vonnegut has a unique sense of humor and a style of writing that seems as candid as if he were writing it as a stream of consciousness or sitting in the same room with you telling the story. And it works, it works wondefully and I can't wait to read more of his works. Breakfast of Champions is about two men (a car salesman and a pulp fiction writer) who eventually cross paths in a cocktail lounge. The side characters aren't trivial - they each contribute in some way to each other and to the main characters. Vonnugut illustrates the book with simple and comical drawings that he did himself. While at times I wondered where in the story I was and what he was telling me about at the moment might (or might not) lead to, I stuck with it simply to keep enjoying his style and writing. The book seemed to be laughing at the planet and the people on it, breaking humans down into robots who are programmed to do this and that. Humans, in this novel, did not seem to enjoy the life they were living or take much pride in the world they lived in. The narrator (Vonnegut himself) often compares his characters penis size or the women's body measurements - otherwise nothing personal or individualistic about them. I looked up reviews and notes of the book after I finished reading hoping that they might offer something that I missed or a subplot that I didn't pick up on. I didn't find much, which told me that the book just has to be read to be enjoyed....more info
  • A review looks like this:
    If you enjoy bawdy, ludicrous theories, and can deal with the Vonnegut's roller-coaster mental track, this may be an interesting read.

    Initially I found it to be too chaotic in organization, subjecting the reader to Vonnegut's tangential attention span. But one could argue, as most of Vonnegut's cult-like followers do, that this within itself offers an original style in American literature. After 100 pages I put the book down out of a lack of interest (and out of respect to the author since I didn't want to end his last book on my booklist on a sour note) only to pick it back up when the characters, as well as Vonnegut's style, beckoned my subconscious.

    You either hate it or love it, there is no in-between and sometimes its a combination of both. Not recommended as in introduction to Vonnegut, but definitely a must for those inclined to visit his innovative universe....more info
  • Didn't get it!
    Sorry, I just didn't get it. I liked Slaughter House Five. Vonnegut shows many signs of being a brilliant writer, even though I didn't understand the story. I knew much of it was satire, I just wish I could understand it. Since this is a very simple book to read I would actually recommend it, despite my low score. ...more info
  • may not be what you were looking for ...
    This book likely does exactly what the write supposed for it to do. As the cover says, he effectively "wheels out all the complaints about America."

    He does not however seem to have any helpful insights to offer readers on the more positive side. This, of course, wasn't his intent in writing the book. Vonnegut tells us in the foreword that he wishes to spill 50 years of accumulated filth in his mind onto the pages of the book and I certainly hope he found it helpful to do so. I didn't find it particularly fruitful to read what he spilled out.

    Vonnegut rambles on and on with inane details of stories related to stories and characters associated with other characters even if they don't directly relate to the theme of the story. He later explains that he does this because in his story "every person would be exactly as important as any other" and "all facts would be given equal weightness." So he rambles on tangents. He poorly tries to tie them into one another as the book wraps up in a pitiful grasp to lend meaningfulness to absurdity. And so on.

    Parts of the story were sad, some parts were beautifuly written in their melancholy, some parts were vulgar.

    I suppose the conclusion of Vonneguts thoughts is that the human individual is equal to all others despite whether their wealth, skin color, and other factors. It was a poorly developed sentiment and its expression was mingled with too many sad but empty figures for me to find much worth for the book.

    The book is anything but charming but it did have its occasional moments. Below is a detached paragraph that made me smile:

    "All of us were stuck to the surface of a ball, incidentally. The planet was ball-shaped. Nobody knew why we didn't fall off, even though everybody pretended to kind of understand it."...more info
  • Vonnegut Takes Out The Trash
    Breakfast Of Champions seems to stand alone in the Vonnegut canon. It is a bizarre piece of product that never really settles into, or onto anything. It's a depressed, cynical, psychedelic mishmash that offers KV's pithy comments on the state of the globe-flinging sarcastic barbs at issues like heredity, free will, racism, schizophrenia, corporatism, nationalism, alcoholism, war, the penal system, suicide, homosexuality, modern art, and the nature of writing itself. And so on.

    It's entirely possible that this kitchen-sink fiction was Kurt's attempt to say everything he wanted to say in an epigrammatic fashion without having to tie it too tightly to a meaningful story. It's also entirely plausible that he was suffering from depression and near-madness when he produced this; it is not a friendly or happy book, though it is quite funny.

    I'd not be foolish enough to compare this to greatness. But it's a perfect entryway into a different perspective on what is happening on this bizarre ball of green and blue. All half-bright teenagers should read this book; all still-bright adults should return to it and find that things haven't changed since 1973 and we could use a good snicker about the way the world is ordered.

    Everyone who knows Vonnegut knows he can write a good novel. If you want to see that writer take a curette to his brain and basically explode from all the hatred and inhumanity and senselessness he sees, then Breakfast Of Champions is where it's at.
    ...more info
  • Love the story, but the Kindle version's editing was HORRIBLE
    I loved this story. I won't go into much detail, because there are so many other reviews.

    The only reason I gave it four stars (instead of five) was because of the low quality of the Kindle eBook.

    The proofreading was HORRIBLE. Words were missing; punctuation was missing; words wereruntogether (get it?); some word swere split and joined to the next word (get it?).

    I really love reading the eBooks on the Kindle, but this is a good example of a book where the quality control was severely lacking....more info
  • What would you do if you were the only person on earth with free will?
    Quick outline: Dwayne Hoover, a successful owner of a car dealership and an all around nice guy, goes crazy because he comes to believe he was created as an amusing experiment in free will. He believes this because of the bad chemicals running through his brain (natural chemicals, not drugs) and because of a book he reads by neglected science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout. Trout is old and ignored and antisocial but deeply moral. He's suffered his entire life and is an utter failure as an author, yet eventually finds himself invited to speak at an arts festival in Midland City. This is where Dwayne Hoover reads one of Trout's books, goes crazy because he thinks he's the only person in the world with free will, and begins beating people up. (A lot of other stuff happens too, but I don't want to give too much away.)

    I'll just say that I like to think of Breakfast of Champions as an absurd, satirical timecapsule. Vonnegut uses his typical humor, sarcasm, and sense of irony to highlight certain destructive, dehumanizing (and unfortunately man-made) features of modern life on earth. It's also interesting to note that Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout may very well represent two different versions of what Vonnegut was afraid he might become: a disillusioned, unsuccesful sci-fi writer, or a ho-hum car salesmen who eventually loses his mind (Vonnegut, after all, was in both lines of work). In fact, Vonnegut himself makes an appearance in this book to share a drink with his alter egos. Overall it's not my favorite Vonnegut book, but it's a must read for fans and a great introduction for people who like to save the best for last....more info
  • Set your fictions free with martinis and washing machines...
    In "Breakfast of Champions" Vonnegut gripes with such irresistible verve that it's a let down when "THE END" (or, in this case, "ETC.") appears. Scrawled, almost childish, cartoons punctuate the text throughout and add to the askew feel. As with many Vonnegut books, humor seems to sugar-coat deep confusion and bitterness. Numerous laugh-out-loud observations on the human condition and the corrupt state of the USA belie the novel's underlying seriousness. But calling this "a novel" with "a story" seems like a misnomer. Here "the story" provides a framework for Vonnegut to vent about the country he loves and hates. Even "The Star Spangled Banner" gets derided, as well as the "baroque trash" displayed on the money. Other digressions, a la "Tristram Shandy," which might have inspired Nicholson Baker's "overwhelming detail" approach, make this a curlicue tale replete with "too much information" moments. For example, the narrative expounds on character's intimate measurements. The squeamish will squirm and men will question their averageness. By book's end, everyone will question their sanity.

    Dwayne Hoover, the main character, does. In fact he loses it altogether in a final mutilating rampage. His homosexual son Bunny fares particularly bad. This bloody climax arrives when Hoover meets one of Vonnegut's most famous alter-egoes: science fiction writer Kilgore Trout. One of Trout's stories, "Now It Can Be Told," convinces Hoover, whose mental health already hangs by a tendril, that everyone around him are machines and only he possesses free will. That idea serves as the book's main protagonist, the catalyst to d®¶nouement. A synopsis collage of Trout's other stories fills out the dramatis personae. These narrative tidbits loom just as large as the human characters. One memorable example concerns a story about aliens who communicate by tap dancing and farting. All the characters, stories and people, relate to the wider context of American culture in the early 1970s (remember C.O.D.?). Vonnegut finds much that confuses and disgusts him in that culture: the prevalence of songs that sell things, slavery's legacy and the "N" word (which appears with shocking frequency), environmental degradation, the yawning gap between the "fabulously well-to-do" and those who own "doodley-squat," and overall senselessness. In the end, Vonnegut himself bursts into the story and plays God with himself and the characters. In a strange coming-out he confronts his creation, Kilgore Trout, and "sets him free." Trout, who has just peeled coagulated toxic river sludge from his legs and lost the tip of a finger, pleads with the literary but all-too-human deity: "Make me young!"

    Though Vonnegut didn't seem to think much of "Breakfast of Champions" (he says "I feel lousy about it" in the preface and grades it a "C" in "Palm Sunday"), it nonetheless remains one of his most memorable books. It's a wild ride. The juxtaposition of dissolute text and bawdy schoolboy cartoons makes it a unique and unforgettable experience. Certain demographics will revel in its irreverence and "sick of the world" tone. It may even shock some readers, despite its age. Somehow, though it seems to argue that existence is mostly meaningless, cruel, and stupid, this strange book delivers a message of hope. Exposing the inanities of modern life provides the first crucial step towards their amelioration. Though we're not Gods, we can, like Vonnegut, fake it pretty well. We're not completely powerless. And, just as the world in "Breakfast of Champions" is Vonnegut's creation for catharsis and manipulation, this world is our creation. We can set our fictions free. And this lesson alone makes "Breakfast of Champions" a worthwhile read. Add to that the cartoon of an anus and undiluted brilliance results. Read....more info
  • Not going to add unnecessary adjectives
    I guess this is why I am not a book critic, but "lucid" and "slippery?" I'm sorry but that doesn't mean a thing to me, especially in the context of this book. Pretentious comes to mind. Vonnegut trying so hard to be a literary genius that he goes the way of Pulp Fiction or Naked Lunch and just tries to make sure it doesn't quite make sense or have a point. Not impressed. For context, I love the books Ishmael, The Fountainhead, The Wheel of Time, Venus in Furs, The God of Small Things... ...more info
  • Trout... better here then in Fish and Stream
    If you're an advit Vonnegut reader you know damn well who Kilgoure Trout. So it's no suprise you want to find a little bit more about him. This book is the definitive Kilgoure Trout book I believe, and has the same effect on this character that the Enacapatian Proclamantion would have had on Kunto Kenta. Vonnegut frees his character in this book, Which I found to be something no other author could pull off.

    Plus Bill, Trout's bird is quite possibly the greatest Bird in a book sense Robinson Crusoe's Parrot.

    It's worth your time - if not for the cross dressing Harry LaSabre alone.

    * <--- and you will never look at that the same....more info
  • You must read this
    This is Vonnegut's famous "50th birthday present to himself", and if you ask me, he spoiled himself with it. Out of the few Vonnegut books I've read, this is the funniest, and probably the best. Basically, Kurt here dismisses the entire American nation as racist, materialist, and obsessed with sex, class, alcohol, conformity, and whatever else you could trot out. It would be considered a pessimistic, nihilistic viewpoint if it wasn't a sadly accurate look at the way America worked, and still works today. And for a little note to those who think the book is racist, keep in mind that the black characters are actually portrayed as being, in a way, a lot more intelligent and less misanthropic than the white ones.
    This isn't an easy book to describe. There's a plot, but Kurt veers away from it on several occasions, offering a wide variety of satiric tangents that make for some of the most hilarious parts of his writing. There are illustrations, crude, simple, and absolutely hilarious. Kurt even sticks himself in the book, makes himself a character, and has discussions with other characters. Choice segments include the scene at the Holiday Inn cocktail lounge, where Kurt has a discussion with himself; every discussion of Kilgore Trout's misadventures with getting his books published by his sleazy publishing house; the uproarious prologue; every illustration; every tangent; and... well, pretty much everything. It's not a book for everyone, but if you're looking for a whole ton of laughs in one place, and some of the best satire known to mankind... whoa. This is it.
    Oh yeah, the book's about what happens when car dealer Wayne Hoover decides everyone on Earth but him is a robot. But, as I said before, the plot is secondary here....more info
  • Easy Read
    It was a quick read. I laughed out-loud at several points; however I was not deeply moved, nor was I inspired by anything Vonnegut had to say.

    I would recommend it to adults (not children because the "f-word is used several times) who can find it cheap (used) and want a quick read....more info
  • Best American Critique/Satire in ages.
    This book is by far one of the most artistic books Vonnegut has ever written. Both a very poignant critique of American society and a auto-biography. In fact, it's a book that not only lambasts American lifestyles it's also a critique of Humanity as a whole. It's a satire about human folly and futility. It's About flesh machinery and complacency. It's About superfluous endeavors and non-sense. I never though I would laugh at misery and calamity before in my life , yet as one reads this primer laughing at such things is all but inevitable.
    On the literary aspect of this book, it possesses the master penmanship one would expect from Vonnegut. It's post-modern meta-fiction at its best. I HIGHLY recommend this title to anyone who's willing to reflect upon his life and who's willing to reflect upon societal values and moral values and human value. Definitely one of Vonnegut's best....more info
  • Bringing order to chaos
    I think Breakfast of Champions can be summed up by this quote from the book:

    "...there is no order in the universe around us....we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead." (p. 215)

    Based on that, you've likely (and correctly) surmised that the tone of the book is largely bleak and pessimistic. It's also largely plotless and rambles. However, it's never dull, it will get you thinking, and even while it is pointing out the bleakness and meaninglessness of life, there is a light that shines here that will make you laugh and shake your head at the absolute absurdity of it all. This isn't Vonnegut's best book (that would be either Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat's Cradle) but it is still a must read for anyone who enjoys his mix of pessimism, philosophy and dark humor. Recommended....more info
  • disappointing
    After reading Cat's Cradle, I was very excited to read another Vonnegut title. After reading the many rave reviews of Breakfast of Champions I decided this would be an interesting choice. I was very disappointed. The only reason I even finished it was because it was an easy, short read plus I wanted to be able to write a review taking the whole book into consideration. First, it is not funny. I am befuddled as to how so many people found it funny. It just isn't. Sure, there are a couple of somewhat funny comments but these are very few and far between. Basically all he does is criticize our American society which I do not find offensive but he does it in such a direct, in-your-face style that it doesn't resonate with any humor. It is like he just put down on paper some random thoughts and complaints about our society without putting any effort toward creating a cohesive theme. The storyline itself is so fragmented and superficial and pock-marked with useless anecdotes and comments that after the first 50 pages I really lost all interest.
    Now for the pictures. He decided to draw pictures of everyday things that we all are familiar with such as a cow and a hamburger. Now at first these were a bit humerous but after the first dozen or so they were very tedious and useless. I found myself thinking "Yes Kurt, I know what a cow looks like". I understand that he is pretending to be writing this commentary on our society to someone who is not familiar with our world in order to highlight it's contradictions, ironies and hypocrosies which are often times right under our noses but the pictures just got to be too much. I finally concluded he used them just for filler for his very thin story.
    There was also a lot of derogatory comments about African-Americans which obviously offended some readers but he also has other vulgar comments as well and these, I believe, were all included to do just that: be offensive and vulgar for no other real purpose because it sure didn't add anything to the story such as it is.
    I have not given up on Vonnegut however. I plan on reading a few more of his novels but if they are anything like this one then I'm through with him. Cat's Cradle was so much more funny, smart, well-conceived and subtle yet strong in it's message that I can't believe the same person wrote both but hey, I guess you can't hit a homerun every time and with Breakfast of Champions he certainly strikes out as far as I am concerned. Of note, the author himself states in the book that it is a bad book so there you have it....more info
  • Preface >> Rest of Book
    I disliked the book mostly on the way it was written. It was suppose to be funny or something, but I didn't find anything that funny. The part that turned me off was the writing style. Donnie did this Donnie did that, it was cute for a little bit, but I got very tired of it. I am unsure of what Kurt Vonnegut's style usually is, but if it is anything like this, I don't believe I will read another one of his books. I am a fan of ranting, and get to listen to a lot of good ones, but the style got in the way of all the fun. Yeah and it only took like 2 hours to read the entire thing. I normally don't review, but this one bothered me enough to.

    If you do read books only for the preface, this is your book. I thought the preface was quite entertaining...too bad it wasn't longer and the entire plot of the book....more info
  • Calling Kilgore Trout!
    Vonnegut's favorite science fiction writer Kilgore Trout is in this one.

    But sort of the main guy in here is Dwayne Hoover, nouveau-rich auto-man in town. He's a guy whom most of us can plug in to. He ultimately goes berzerk. How he reaches this point in his life is the point of the book... sort of.

    Here we have more Vonnegut brilliance and hilarity and most readers will plug in to his satirical view of the basic human being (they don't get such a sterling rating from KV!).

    I think individual people come away from Vonnegut books, each with something different in mind and I think that most of them have seized upon some idea or character that they particularly liked that they have read about in his works. There's certainly plenty to like and to laugh about in here.

    And, there's no small amount of debate about which is Vonnegut's best book -- personally, "Dead-eye Dick" was the biggest hit with me.

    My highest rating for this masterpiece....more info
  • America Is...
    Breakfast of Champions is a celebration of having found something valuable in an immense heap of trash, and a lamentation of lost opportunity and injustice confused with superior morals. The search theme overwhelms the narrative; the narrator, Vonnegut in his own voice, carefully examines what he sees and tries his best to make sense of it. This process is a bit subtle; take a look, for example, at all the mirrorings (Hoover and Hoobler, for example), and all the reflections of vulgarity and immanence (where taking a leak means stealing a mirror). Vonnegut holds up to the reader the most repulsive aspects of human life, and American life, and insists the reader look at it and recognize it for what it is.

    Is it trash? Are we machines? Bands of light? Are storytellers responsible for the trouble we find ourselves in, or ourselves repeating stupid stories we're supposed to believe in? Vonnegut alternately pleads with you to answer these questions, and confronts you with them.

    Very few stories look good after this. The stories that justify racism, sexism, homophobia, corporate environmental plunder, crappy art, the excesses of capitalist exploitation and warfare and hunger and virtually any kind of abuse Vonnegut throws out the window. The trouble is that they land right in the drinking water (pollution of Sugar Creek). Even Maharishi Mahesh Yogi gets a thumb in the eye, and folks who (in V's view) undermine humanity by thinking of human bodies as machines.

    It's a great piece of folk art, folks, as relevant to US culture now as it was in 1973.
    ...more info

 

 
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