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Breakfast of Champions

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Breakfast of Champions Cover

ISBN13: 9780385334204
ISBN10: 0385334206
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

After Slaughterhouse Five came out in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut entered a long period of depression and swore he would never write another novel. Fortunately he was lying, and in 1973, out came Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday (the subtitle alluding to his fog lifting). Four years of pent-up Vonnegut humor spilled out onto the page. Breakfast of Champions is Vonnegut's scathing satire and brilliant doodling at their peak. (If you've ever wondered what an asshole looks like up close, this is the book for you.) It is, as the author notes, in no way intended to disparage General Mills or its fine products.
Recommended by Frank, Powells.com

Vonnegut gives us a tale of madness in his usual loopy, hilarious style. Why not throw in a little art, racism, economic disparity, and environmentalism? But beware: not all is lightness and satire here. Vonnegut can be as dark as he is funny. His own drawings are an amusing bonus.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

According to Kurt Vonnegut, "The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable." In one hilarious, heart-wrenching, absurdist, wildly imaginative novel after another he did just that for countless readers, making life a little more bearable — not to mention a lot more fun! Breakfast of Champions may be my favorite simply because it was my introduction to Vonnegut's weird way with a story. But in his off-kilter, savagely funny approach he digs down and reveals something much deeper and more human. I come back to it every few years — and love it every time.
Recommended by Tad, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s  most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows 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.

Synopsis:

In this vintage Vonnegut novel, aging writer Kilgore Trout finds to his horror that a car dealer is taking his fiction as truth.

About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut’s black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America’s attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him as “a true artist” (The New York Times) with Cat’s Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, “one of the best living American writers.” Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.

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cole h, March 29, 2012 (view all comments by cole h)
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut centers on the intriguing characters Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout. Trout is a writer, whose science fiction novels cause Hoover to go insane. Trout’s works highlight cultural arguments that parallel the novel itself. Vonnegut explores the state of society through the events that lead up to the meeting of Hoover and Trout. Overall, the author’s creative application of point of view, diction, and characters adequately portrays the societal flaws revealed within the novel.
Vonnegut implements a variety of methods to develop his argument. First, Vonnegut applies the point of view of the novel in order to further the themes concerning societal flaws. Utilizing a third-person narrative, Vonnegut provides an all-knowing perspective on our culture. “I was on par with the Creator of the Universe there in the dark in the cocktail lounge” (205). The previous passage displays the narrator’s fascinating perspective equivalent to that of a god. The perspective forces the reader to examine Vonnegut’s statements. The narrator shapes the plot of the novel himself, creating a clear parallel to Kurt Vonnegut. The author also employs clever word choice throughout Breakfast of Champions to point out the flaws of our modern society.
Vonnegut’s implementation of simple and blunt dialogue aids in revealing his societal statements to the reader. When outlining the hypocrisy of American politics, Vonnegut states, “It didn’t think that Earthlings who had a lot should share it with others unless they really wanted to, and most of them didn’t want to. So they didn’t” (13). The author bluntly describes the American stance on communism and sharing the wealth in the previous text. By using such word choice, Vonnegut clearly displays his ideas concerning the flaws of government. Along with word choice, the author also applies his characters in order to advance his theories on modern culture.
Vonnegut utilizes his characters to exemplify societal troubles. He places characters such as Hoover and Trout into certain situations in order to expose cultural issues such as racism. When Dwayne is asked to start a KFC restaurant, he replies, “’So you want me to open a Nigger joint’” (164)? Vonnegut formulates a theme of racism through many of the white characters within the novel. The previous passage illustrates the author’s clearly negative outlook on racism through Dwayne’s use of derogatory terms. Vonnegut also employs his characters to portray arguments on pollution and sex. For example, Patty Keene, a waitress, is “raped by a white gas-conversion unit installer” (143), again showing Vonnegut’s utilization of characters and plot to highlight the worst aspects of our society.
In total, Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions effectively displays perceptions concerning societal flaws such as racism, government, and pollution in an entertaining manner. Vonnegut furthers his ideas through the creative and direct application of point of view, word choice, and characters. Breakfast of Champions is a fantastic novel and an enjoyable read that will provoke awareness on many cultural issues.
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TheGreatDane, May 12, 2009 (view all comments by TheGreatDane)
For those who eat, sleep and breathe literature, Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions certainly lives up to its name. It is a brilliant piece of social commentary on modern America that continues to be relevant in the new millennium. He explores racism, pollution, and sexuality in a way that is both simple and telling. While his modern style may contain some interesting quirks, readers should not let this allow them to put the book back on the shelf.
Breakfast of Champions is a darkly humorous tale about the brief meeting of two men: the elderly science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the successful Pontiac salesman Dwayne Hoover. The novel covers Trout’s journey from New York City to Midland City to attend the opening of the Mildred Barry Memorial Center for the Arts in hopes of inspiring shock and disgust in the other attendees. Meanwhile, the reader gets to dip into the life of the “fabulously well-to-do” Dwayne Hoover, a resident of Midland City, as he goes completely insane. Vonnegut exposes the readers not only to the oddities of these two men, but also indulges in explaining the details of other seemingly minor characters such as Dwayne’s son George “Bunny” Hoover, a waitress named Patty Keene, and a young doctor named Cyprian Ukwende. In the end, all of these characters are linked by Hoover’s insanity-driven attack. Despite its fractured appearance, the novel’s structure actually helps to explain the themes and ideas of the novel.
While the novel appears to be full of random tangents and Sharpie doodles, Vonnegut actually uses these to highlight the ridiculous and shallow aspects of American society. For instance, “A Pyramid was a sort of huge stone tomb which Egyptians had built thousands and thousands of years before…” (112) followed by a simple, two-toned drawing of three pyramids. While this may seem both irrelevant and unnecessary, it is actually very clever in context. The drawing is in reference to a shipping truck with “Pyramid” written on the side simply because the owner “liked the sound of it”. The cartoon helps show how people do not pay attention to context or details; they act on impulse and without logic. The doodle is not only telling, its simplicity adds humor to the situation instead of being outright critical of American culture.
Vonnegut also covers a number of modern social issues in the novel, one being racism. Vonnegut plainly points out racial discrimination and preconceptions without worrying about what is politically correct. For example, “Dwayne asked a white workman how many horsepower drove the machine. All the workers were white. ‘We call it The Hundred Nigger Machine,’ said the workman. This had reference to a time when black men had done most of the heavy digging in Midland City” (150). Here, Vonnegut does not hesitate to use a potentially offensive word like “nigger” to illustrate the workmen’s feelings of superiority. Instead of trying to cover up an embarrassing part of American history or pretending that racism is gone, Vonnegut exposes it plainly and without frills. His honesty leaves the reader unable to avoid racism and forces them to examine whether or not it is present today.
Another social issue Vonnegut points out is pollution. People’s careless attitude is extraordinarily obvious in Breakfast of Champions. It is very matter-of-factly stated that “Trout marveled at how recently white men had arrived in West Virginia, and how quickly they had demolished it – for heat. Now the heat was all gone, too – into outer space, Trout supposed” (125). In the novel, commenting of the condition of West Virginia feels irrelevant but is very telling of the attitude Vonnegut perceives society to have. Just as Kilgore Trout is not troubled by walking through a polluted stream that covers his feet in plastic, few people stop to think about what has been done to the land. The carelessness of society is exposed leaving the readers to decide for themselves how to feel about it and what to do.
While Breakfast of Champions is an extremely entertaining satire, it is certainly not for people who are conservative or easily offended. For instance, Vonnegut points out America’s preoccupation with sex by going on tangents about the penis size of various male characters as well as the body measurements of the female characters. He even goes so far as to briefly discuss the presence of “wide open beavers” in pornographic novels, complete with a sketch to illustrate the difference between the animal and the body part. The pervasiveness of sex in American thought and media is made abundantly clear, but for a reader that cannot look past this type of content to see the commentary, this is not the book for them.
Breakfast of Champions is a smart and interesting read that comments on many different aspects of modern American society. While its content may not appeal to more conservative readers, it is the perfect choice for any person that enjoys dark comedy and great satire.
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Caleb.hickenlooper, January 25, 2008 (view all comments by Caleb.hickenlooper)

Breakfast of Champions, in its simplest form, is the story of a very unbalanced car salesman named Dwayne Hoover who, after reading a science fiction novel by the poor, lonely, eccentric, and extremely prolific writer, Kilgore Trout, becomes convinced that he is the only real human being on earth. It is a very simple story and can only account for about half of the pages of this “novel”.
The rest of the book is devoted to various tangents, rambles, and other forms of drool (easily recognized by his unique arrows) that seem to be intended to be either profound and insightful, or shockingly perverted and explicit. Whatever they’re intended purpose, these little side-shows, because of their content: penis measurements, descriptions of pornography, and a list of activities in the average prisoner’s sex life, (including gay oral and anal sex, as well as cow raping) are inarguably memorable. (I already forgot the ones that were supposed to be profound.(I’m pretty sure there was a decent one about white men “colonizing America”)). In order to further imprint his book on your mind, Vonnegut draws pictures, always preceded by the phrase “It looked like this:” Again, some, such as the electric chair, were somewhat profound, but most were either pointless (Goodbye blue Sunday?), or disgusting (Assholes and “Beavers”), or both.
In his defense, his writing is sometimes clever, for example, I loved the way he put himself into his own story, but it is not naturally entertaining. It seems to me that he is trying desperately to be insightful and culturally relevant, but he comes out seeming just scatter-brained. There is no unifying point to the story. It ends very randomly with the Author “setting his characters free”, after making them all very poor, very confused, very miserable, or very dead, or all four at the same time. Hopefully this can be taken as a promise that he will never write another book like this “novel”, ever again.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385334204
Author:
Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr.
Author:
Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr.
Publisher:
Delta
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Humorous Stories
Subject:
American fiction (fictional works by one author)
Subject:
Science fiction
Subject:
Authorship
Subject:
Satire
Subject:
Science fiction -- Authorship -- Fiction.
Subject:
Humorous fiction
Subject:
Science fiction -- Authorship.
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
no. 5
Publication Date:
19990531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.01x5.29x.86 in. .61 lbs.

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Breakfast of Champions Used Trade Paper
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Product details 320 pages Delta - English 9780385334204 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

After Slaughterhouse Five came out in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut entered a long period of depression and swore he would never write another novel. Fortunately he was lying, and in 1973, out came Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday (the subtitle alluding to his fog lifting). Four years of pent-up Vonnegut humor spilled out onto the page. Breakfast of Champions is Vonnegut's scathing satire and brilliant doodling at their peak. (If you've ever wondered what an asshole looks like up close, this is the book for you.) It is, as the author notes, in no way intended to disparage General Mills or its fine products.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Vonnegut gives us a tale of madness in his usual loopy, hilarious style. Why not throw in a little art, racism, economic disparity, and environmentalism? But beware: not all is lightness and satire here. Vonnegut can be as dark as he is funny. His own drawings are an amusing bonus.

"Staff Pick" by ,

According to Kurt Vonnegut, "The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable." In one hilarious, heart-wrenching, absurdist, wildly imaginative novel after another he did just that for countless readers, making life a little more bearable — not to mention a lot more fun! Breakfast of Champions may be my favorite simply because it was my introduction to Vonnegut's weird way with a story. But in his off-kilter, savagely funny approach he digs down and reveals something much deeper and more human. I come back to it every few years — and love it every time.

"Synopsis" by , In this vintage Vonnegut novel, aging writer Kilgore Trout finds to his horror that a car dealer is taking his fiction as truth.
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