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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.

295 pages, Hardcover

First published July 12, 1973

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About the author

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

527 books32k followers
Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journalist before joining the U.S. Army and serving in World War II.

After the war, he attended University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York in public relations for General Electric. He attributed his unadorned writing style to his reporting work.

His experiences as an advance scout in the Battle of the Bulge, and in particular his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden, Germany whilst a prisoner of war, would inform much of his work. This event would also form the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five, the book which would make him a millionaire. This acerbic 200-page book is what most people mean when they describe a work as "Vonnegutian" in scope.

Vonnegut was a self-proclaimed humanist and socialist (influenced by the style of Indiana's own Eugene V. Debs) and a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The novelist is known for works blending satire, black comedy and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,914 reviews
Profile Image for Honey.
6 reviews22 followers
August 6, 2008
I am about to finish Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions. I checked out the book from the Multnomah County Library four weeks ago. I've never read anything by Kurt Vonnegut before. The book looks like this:

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I'm enjoying the book because it feels easy to read. I'm not enjoying the book because parts of it induce discomfort. There are many things in the universe that make me feel the opposite of discomfort. One of those things is a lava lamp.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

A lava lamp emits light but also contains a bulbous wax that forms, rises, and falls with the help of heat provided by an incandescent bulb inside the base. The lava lamp reminds people of the 60's, when life revolved around love. My lava lamp looks like this:

[image error]

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Listen: On the base of the lava lamp is a sticker. The sticker is a picture of me and Agent in jail. In the picture, both of us stare out forever from behind bars. Agent and I are not actually in jail, but if we were, we'd probably be happy anyway.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
November 1, 2016
I have a little inner book snob that desperately wants to like Vonnegut. In the very unlikely event that I should find myself at a convention of bookish intellectuals, I feel like I'd fit right in if I sipped my champagne and said "Oh yes, indeed, I simply adore what Vonnegut has to say about the absence of free will..."

This is the kind of bollocks that runs through my mind on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, I just don't find him that funny most of the time. Perhaps jokes about open beavers are funnier to readers who don't have vaginas - who knows? - but it goes sailing right over my head. Maybe this is why my invitation to the bookish intellectual convention seems to have got lost in the mail.

He also repeats the phrase "which looked like this" and follows it with a sketch of everything from a flamingo to a swastika to the aforementioned beaver, in both senses of the word "beaver". Again, is this funny? Should I find it funny?

The funniest parts are his jokes about white people and the way in which they celebrate their "discovery" of America in 1492, despite the fact that others had actually been living on the continent for thousands of years. But even that is a little overdone these days, and haven't others done it better? It sure feels like it.

That being said, I enjoyed Cat's Cradle. Easily my favourite of his works.

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Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 3, 2021
Breakfast of Champions = Goodbye Blue Monday, Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of Champions, is a 1973 novel by the American author Kurt Vonnegut.

His seventh novel, it is set predominantly in the fictional town of Midland City, Ohio and focuses on two characters: Dwayne Hoover, a Midland resident, Pontiac dealer and affluent figure in the city and Kilgore Trout, a widely published but mostly unknown science fiction author.

Breakfast of Champions has themes of free will, suicide, and race relations among others.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوم از ماه ژانویه سال 2017میلادی

عنوان: صبحانه قهرمانان؛ نویسنده: کورت ونه گات؛ مترجم: راضیه رحمانی؛ تهران، ققنوس، 1393، در 312ص، مصور، شابک9786002781147؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده ی 20م

صبحانه قهرمانان، رمانی طنزآمیز است؛ دغدغه‌ های ذهن نويسنده، درباره ی دو پیرمرد سفیدپوست لاغر اندام است، که روی سیاره‌ ای در حال مرگ زندگی میکنند؛ «کیلگور تراوت»، نویسنده‌ ای پرکار، و در عین حال، ناکام است، که به جز یک خوانشگر، هیچ‌کس انبوه کتاب‌ها، و داستان‌های او را، نخوانده‌ است؛ روزی با اعمال نفوذ همین تنها خوانشگرش، به جشنواره ی هنر شهر کوچک «میدلند سیتی» دعوت می‌شود؛ او که از این دعوت شوکه شده، تصمیم می‌گیرد تا به آنجا برود؛ حضور «تراوت» در آن شهر، رخدادی است، که زندگی چندین شخص را دگرگون می‌کند؛ یکی از این اشخاص «دواین هوور» است، که فروشنده ی ماشین‌های «پونتیاک»، و از ثروتمندترین شهروندان «میدلند سیتی»، هست؛ «ونه گات» در واقع، شخصیت‌هایی آفریده، که با آن‌ها خود را متحول می‌کند، و به این نتیجه می‌رسد، که انسان‌ها دو بعد «ماشینی» و «مقدس» دارند؛ تا زمانیکه یک انسان، ماشین‌وار عمل کند، وضعیتش پیچیده، تراژیک و خنده دار خواهد بود؛ اما در درون همه ی موجودات، به طور یکسان، ماهیت مقدسی نیز، وجود دارد، که نویسنده آن را «نوار لغزش ‌ناپذیری از نور» می‌نامد؛ این ماهیت، در وجود تک‌ تک این موجودات، شعله می‌کشد؛ «ونه گات» در این رمان، از تکنیک‌های بسیاری سود برده، تا اصول سنتی داستان نویسی را، در هم بریزد؛ وی از همان آغاز داستان، درباره ی چگونگی، و پایان آن سخن می‌گوید، اما رخدادهای پیش بینی نشده، در این میان، خود حدیث دیگری هستند

نقل از متن: (سرآغاز کلام: «صبحانه قهرمانان» نام انحصاری نوعی برشتوک صبحانه از شرکت «جنرال میلز» است؛ هر گونه استفاده از این عبارت در سراسر کتاب، و برای عنوان آن، نه مبنی بر ارتباط با شرکت «جنرال میلز» و بهره مندی از حمایت ایشان است و نه به منظور بی اعتبار ساختن محصولات خوبشان؛ «فیبی هرتی»، که کتاب به او هدیه شده، به گفتاری آشنا، دیگر دستش از دنیا کوتاه است؛ «فیبی» بیوه ای اهل «ایندیاناپولیس» بود، که در پایان دوره ی «رکود بزرگ» با او آشنا شدم؛ آن زمان، «فیبی» حدوداً پنجاه ساله بود، و من شانزده ساله بودم، یا در همین حول و حوش؛ «فیبی» مایه دار بود، منتها چون در تمام دوران جوانی اش هفت روز هفته، سر کار رفته بود، دیگر برایش عادت شده بود، و دست از کار نمیکشید؛ او نکته های منطقی و گیرایی در ستون «توصیه هایی به عاشقان دلخسته» مینوشت، در روزنامه «ایندیاناپولیس تایمز»، روزنامه ای که زمانی معتبر به حساب میآمد، ولی حالا دیگر منسوخ شده؛ منسوخ؛ او برای فروشگاه زنجیره ای «ویلیام اچ بلاک» آگهی مینوشت، کسب و کار این فروشگاه هنوز هم، در ساختمانی که پدرم طراحی کرده، رونق دارد؛ «فیبی» برای حراج تابستانه ی کلاه حصیری، آگهی زیر را نوشت: «این کلاههای حصیری اونقده مُفته که میتونید بخریدشون واسه سایبون گلهای رُز باغچه تون، یا حتی رو هم بچینیدشون تا اسبتون بپره از روشون!»؛ «فیبی هرتی» مرا استخدام کرد، تا از روی آگهیهایی که برای تبلیغ لباس نوجوانان مینوشت، رونویسی کنم؛ بخشی از کارم پوشیدن لباسهایی بود، که ازشان تعریف و تمجید میکردم؛ با هر دو پسرش که هم سن و سالم بودند، رفیق شدم، و تمام وقت خانه آنها پلاس بودم؛ «فیبی» در صحبت با ما و دوست دخترهایمان، اصلاً عفتِ کلام نداشت، و حرفهای رکیک میزد؛ از این گذشته، شوخ طبع بود و کاری به کارمان نداشت؛ از «فیبی» یاد گرفتیم که نه تنها وقت حرف زدن از امور خصوصی، بلکه در صحبت از مدرسه، تاریخ «آمریکا»، قهرمانان سرشناس، نحوه توزیع ثروت در جامعه، و خلاصه هر موضوعی بی ادب و جسور باشیم؛ من خودم تا به حال از صدقه ی سر همین بی نزاکتی، توانسته ام لقمه نانی به دست بیاورم، اما هنوز در این مقوله خیلی ناشی ام، و مانده تا به «فیبی هرتی» برسم؛ مدام سعی میکنم از بی ادبی «فیبی هرتی»، که بسیار برازنده اش بود، تقلید کنم؛ به نظر من، آن زمان، به خاطر حال و هوای رکود اقتصادی، داشتن جذابیت برای «فیبی» بسیار آسانتر بود تا الآنِ من، چون او به همان چیزی اعتقاد داشت که اکثر «آمریکایی»های آن زمان بهش معتقد بودند: این که وقتی رفاه اقتصادی از راه برسد، مردم خوشبخت و منطقی و منصف خواهند شد؛ دیگر هیچ وقت این کلمه را نشنیدم؛ منظورم «رفاه» است؛ این کلمه قبلاً مترادف با بهشت بود، و «فیبی هرتی» معتقد بود آداب گریزی ای که به همه توصیه میکرد کمک میکند تا بهشت «آمریکایی» محقق شود؛ هنوز راه و رسم آداب گریزیِ «فیبی» مُد است، اما دیگر هیچکس بهشت «آمریکا»یی را باور ندارد؛ البته هیچ کس، الا «فیبی هرتی»؛ در این کتاب، از تصوراتم درباره ماشین وار بودنِ آدمها خواهم گفت؛ این دیدگاه در دوران کودکی ام شکل گرفت، زمانی که مبتلایان به مراحل پیشرفته سیفلیس و اختلال حرکتی ــ به ویژه مبتلایان مرد ــ مضحکه تماشاگران سیرکها و مردم پایین شهرِ «ایندیاناپولیس» میشدند؛ سیفلیسیها اسیر موجوداتی فنری شکل و گوشتخوار بودند، موجوداتی آن قدر ریز که فقط با میکروسکوپ میشد مشاهده شان کرد؛ این میکروبها، وقتی از گوشتِ بین مهره های ستون فقرات قربانیان عبور میکردند، باعث به هم چسبیدن مهره ها میشدند و، در نتیجه، مبتلایان به شکل ترسناکی باوقار و شق و رق به نظر میرسیدند، گویی چشمانشان دارد از حدقه میزند بیرون؛ یکبار، در تقاطع خیابانهای مِریدیِن و واشینگتن، فردی مبتلا به سیفلیس دیدم؛ زیر ساعتی ایستاده بود که پدرم طراحی کرده بود؛ مردم محل به آنجا میگفتند «تقاطع آمریکا»؛ مرد سیفلیسی سخت به فکر فرو رفته بود که چگونه با پاهای رنجورش روی خط کشی خیابان قدم بردارد، و خود را به آنطرف خیابان «واشینگتن» برساند؛ تنش رعشه خفیفی داشت؛ انگار درون بدنش موتوری کوچک کار گذاشته بودند که درجا کار میکرد؛ مشکل از اینجا ناشی میشد: مغزش که بایست به پاها فرمان حرکت میداد دیگر کار نمیکرد، چون موجودات ریز، زنده زنده خورده بودندش؛ رشته های عصبی و اتصالاتی که بایست دستورالعملها را منتقل میکردند هم یا دیگر عایق بندی نبودند یا همان موجودات ریز کاملاً جویده بودندشان؛ کلیدهایی هم که در مسیر اتصالات قرار داشتند یا مسدود شده بودند یا کاملاً به هم جوش خورده بودند؛ او حدوداً سی ساله بود، اما بسیار پیرتر به نظر میآمد؛ فکر میکرد و فکر میکرد؛ آنوقت، مثل زنان گروه همسرایان، دوبار پشت سر هم پایش را به جلو پرتاب میکرد.؛ آن زمان، که بچه سال بودم، او درست مثل ماشین به نظرم میرسید؛ در آن دوران فکر میکردم آدمها تیوبهای پلاستیکی ای هستند که درونشان واکنشهای شیمیایی در حال فعل و انفعال است؛ وقتی بچه بودم، افراد زیادی را دیدم که گواتر داشتند؛ دووِین هووِر، فروشنده پونتیاکی که قهرمان این کتاب است، هم چنین کسانی را به چشم خود دیده؛ این ساکنان بدبختِ زمین غدّه های تیروییدشان چنان ورم میکرد که انگار در گلویشان کدوخورشتی پرورش داده اند؛ همانطور که بعدها ثابت شد، تنها کاری که مبتلایان به گواتر بایست انجام میدادند مصرف روزانه یک سرِ سوزن ید بود و بس؛ آنوقت میتوانستند زندگی آرامی داشته باشند؛ مادرم مغزش را با داروهای شیمیایی درب و د��غان کرد، داروهایی که مثلاً قرار بود باعث شوند راحت بخوابد)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 11/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews867 followers
July 29, 2022
“in nonsense is strength”

Kilgore Trout by WonderDookie on DeviantArt

Nothing is sacred in : Breakfast of Champions. The narrator/Philboyd Studge/Vonnegut makes his appearance as the Creator of the Universe (or at least the creators of the characters in his novel) as he delivers what amounts to a searing meta-critique of American culture. "The big show is inside my head," he tells a waitress as he watches his main protagonists, and decides what they will do next. After his brief appearance in Slaughterhouse-Five, it was fun to see Kilgore Trout, the failed science fiction writer, take center stage. Of course, Vonnegut makes it clear that he as the narrator is the one pulling the strings and arranging, of all things, a Nobel Prize in Medicine for the confused Trout. Fun, interesting and bizarre! 4.25 stars
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,867 reviews16.5k followers
September 26, 2019
This is one of my earliest favorites and I have gone back to revisit several times over the years.

In high school I was both amazed and hooked by Vonnegut's wry humor and devilish mid-western charm. I have since caught on to the more serious metaphors and themes into which he delves. But the humor drew me in initially and makes me think of Vonnegut today.

Insanity explained as a chemical imbalance and dysfunctional families, relationships and communities described as matter of factly as a still life portrait. The novel within a novel, and the recurring character of Kilgore Trout, further leaves the reader with a depth of appreciation for this classic.

*** 2019 Re-read

I'm adding this to my all time favorites list.

When I think about Vonnegut and his writing, I am most often thinking of this book, his playful yet thoughtful way of describing his universe. And here it is demonstrably his universe as he the author, the creator, makes a guest appearance in Midland City to see all the goings on firsthand. And perhaps other creators, he does not control his handiworks by rigid cable and reign, but rather loosely and as with dry rubber bands.

Throughout this wonderful book we find drawings made by Vonnegut himself, illustrating his concepts and ideas. I smiled throughout the book, as I always do, and laughed out loud many times and many times because of his felt tip pen doodle.

Funny as he is, and charming too hen he wants to be, Vonnegut also tackles some heavy subjects as well, such as economics, fairness and institutional racism. This book is about the fabulously well to do as well as for those who do not have diddlysquat.

The scene with Rabo Karabekian (the protagonist of Vonnegut’s later book Bluebeard) where he describes his minimalist painting is one of Vonnegut’s finest. Trout's visit to the Midland City Arts Festival by way of Sugar Creek is also one of my favorites.

A joy.

Profile Image for Adina ( On hiatus until next week) .
827 reviews3,228 followers
May 22, 2018
“Like most science-fiction writers, he knew almost nothing about science.”

Breakfast of Champions is not my favorite Kurt Vonnegut novel and I have a bit of difficulty to understand why. Maybe because it was crazier than the others that I’ve read, with long passages without any sense. There weren’t one or two deeper themes that I had to dig between the irony and the absurd. It was more of a collection of crazy talk (or talk by crazy men) mingled with the author’s ideas about the world. I enjoyed the latter parts more than the former, I laughed out loud many times but it wasn’t enough.

For the whole novel we are prepared for a momentous meeting between our main characters, the still undiscovered, aging, soon to become monumental, SF writer, Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover, a successful Midwest car dealer. Dwayne, due to bad chemicals in his brain, is slowly going crazy and the meeting with the SF writer will make him derail irrecoverably. The story switches between Kilgore’s trip to reach an Art festival in Midwest to Dwayne’s increasingly weird mind. At some point we also get to meet the author, which was an interesting feature.

The plot offers Vonnegut the opportunity to launch in a bleak satire on race, politics, social standards, sexism, etc. I don’t know how Vonnegut can be pessimistic and funny at the same time.

“As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, and with such abominable results: They were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books. why were so many Americans treated by their government as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tis-sues? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made-up tales”

For more than half of the book, I listened to the brilliant narration of John Malkovich. I believe the actor’s voice and Vonnegut’s work go perfectly together. However, I do not usually listen to audiobooks so it might have altered my reading experience somewhat.

I enjoyed the novel, it’s Vonnegut duh, but I felt he crammed a bit too much inside the pages. I also don’t believe it is the place to start if you are a newbie to his work. Slaughterhouse 5 would still my first choice. By the way, Kilgore Trout is a character in that novel as well. There are many characters, themes and places that appear in more than one novel of the author and that is a prize for his fandom, of which I am still part of.

“Dear Sir, poor sir, brave sir." he read, "You are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe. You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will. You are the only one who has to figure out what to do next - and why. Everybody else is a robot, a machine. Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why. They are simply liking machines and hating machines. You are pooped and demoralized, " read Dwayne. "Why wouldn't you be? Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable.”
“So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.”

Profile Image for Julie G .
883 reviews2,741 followers
February 9, 2021
This past December I was flung to the earth by the force of gravity, which never relaxed for a second.

This resulted in an bad ankle injury which has required an ortho boot, limited activity, and physical therapy.

(I couldn't help wondering if that was what God put me on Earth for—to find out how much a [person] could take without breaking).

Two weeks ago, I received a shoulder shrug from the doctor and his advice: “You need an MRI if this doesn't improve soon.”

Almost all the messages which were sent and received in his country, even the telepathic ones, had to do with buying or selling some damn thing.

Getting an MRI is right up there for me with shopping naked at my regular grocery store or being hog-tied, gagged and deposited in the trunk of somebody's Buick.

So, I procrastinated making the call for days, then finally took a deep breath, put on my happy face, and called the person who scheduled the MRI appointments. You could say I put my best foot forward, when I made that call (at the moment, that would be my left foot).

A woman answered, and right from the first words out of her mouth, I was greeted with vitriol. Hatred, almost. (Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why).

I couldn't believe it. I had dreaded making the call in the first place and then I was put on the phone with this woman. Was it the pandemic that had brought this employee at this medical office to this place, or had she always been such a condescending and miserable person? She must have hoped to get through what little remained of [her] life without ever having to touch another human being again.

Such a small remark was able to have such thundering consequences because the spiritual matrix. . . was in what I choose to call a pre-earthquake condition. Terrific forces were at work on our souls, but they could do no work, because they balanced one another so nicely.

After she knocked me out with three unprovoked verbal blows in a row, my voice was quivering and I almost hung up the phone, but instead I said, “I called you to schedule an appointment, and you have been rude to me from the first word. (Which wasn't hello). You have no idea how much courage it took me to make this phone call or how stressful it is for me to have another MRI. How can you have this job, of scheduling people for stressful appointments, without any compassion or professionalism? This is not okay, and I am hanging up now and I will schedule this appointment at a later time.”

I hung up the phone and sat down on my bed and cried. (A writer off-guard, since the materials with which he works are so dangerous, can expect agony as quick as a thunderclap). It may sound dramatic to you that I cried, but sometimes a little kindness can make all the difference in the world, and when someone stuffs their fist in your mouth instead, you can't help but fall apart.

A lot of citizens were so ignored and cheated and insulted that they thought they might be in the wrong country, or even on the wrong planet, that some terrible mistake had been made.

It took me a full week to summon the courage to call again, and, naturally, when I did, the same woman answered the phone. We were both fully aware that it was the same person from the previous week on the call, but we danced around the issue. My goal was to stay professional and make an appointment; I think her goal was the same, but she couldn't resist one verbal barb at the end.

When I arrived at my appointment yesterday, it was the same woman again. I could not believe it. (Truly, is she the only employee there or what??). She greeted me with, “I just called your phone. I looked at the time and wondered if you'd show.” (I was supposed to arrive at 9:15 and it was 9:17).

I didn't want further conflict, so I said, “I'm sorry. When I'm nervous, I start peeing and it's like I can't stop. I've spent most of the morning on the toilet.” Then I pulled down my mask and showed her the dried blood on my lower lip. I started to laugh (I was a nervous wreck) and I said, “I broke out with a cold sore last week, thinking about this MRI, and I ripped the scab off with my fingernail when I tried to spray Rescue Remedy in my mouth in the car. I filled two napkins with blood. I'm a mess.”

She stared at me for a moment, then handed me the paperwork. I was standing at the counter, filling it out, when she said, “I haven't been very nice to you, have I?” I looked up, but I didn't say anything. She said, “I was rude to you on the phone and you called me out on it. I've been thinking about it all week, and I've realized that I've been slowly turning into a person that I don't like anymore.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I responded to her honesty by saying, “It's a tough time, and we're all dealing with a lot of stress right now. I'm sure you're trying your best.”

She said, “Nah. I wasn't trying my best. I've been turning into this person long before the pandemic. You're right; I wasn't kind to you, and I hope you'll accept my apology.”

I accepted her apology and asked her to please forgive me, too. Then two incredibly cheerful and compassionate men ushered me back to the MRI. I discovered I was able to go in “feet first” (thank you, Jesus!). Chopin was playing on the headphones.

I decided: some days are really shitty, some are almost divine.

[Their] situation, insofar as [they were] a machine, was complex, tragic and laughable. But the sacred part of [them], [their] awareness, remained an unwavering band of light.
Profile Image for Tim P.
9 reviews59 followers
July 9, 2008
God, what a terrible book of nonsense.

The two main characters are just overly weird and bizarre for the sake of being bizarre. And I mean really really bizarre. (I suspect many people say they like Vonnegut because he is so damn weird, but theres gotta be a purpose to it. You can't just have completely random ridiculous thoughts that do not have any purpose towards the message of the story. When you do that, its like the intellectual version of VH1 reality; people love it for shock value, while I, and others like me, are disgusted by its lack of substance. You feel dumber for having spent part of your life dedicated to it.)
Theres zero suspense as you are told what the ending will be in the first chapter. The entire book is a build up to that "event" which ends up being a short, disappointingly mild one.
The entire book was written in an obnoxious tone, speaking about everything "humans" do in an condescending manner. As if the author considers himself not only separate from, but better than the human race and its tendencies.
Finally, as if the book wasn't self indulgent enough for Vonnegut, he inserts HIMSELF as a character for the last third of the novel, telling us what he can and can't do if he wishes and how every characters actions are predetermined by his will, even as he interacts with them. This came across as so arrogant and narcissistic that it was almost too much to bear.

It is clear to me after reading Breakfast of Champions that Kurt Vonnegut's biggest fan, by far, is Kurt Vonnegut himself.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
December 5, 2017
The Emperor’s New Clothes,

As retold by Kurt Vonnegut, taking a leak in front of Humanity to mirror their fictionalized realities!

(Vonnegut was apparently capable of prophetically foreshadowing what would happen to America in the 21st century, when leaks are indeed mirrors of the country's general condition! America is really taking the piss, and he KNEW it would happen.)

Once upon a time, there was a storyteller who tried to honestly hold up a mirror (leak) in the face of a pitiful assembly of postmodernist, cool people posing as representatives of the long lost species of homo sapiens, satiated from overdosing fast food, fast reads, fast philosophy, fast bad chemicals, fast fashion, fast listening and fast wisdom - not to mention fast governing.


He said to his followers. Let us tell the story differently. Let us be taking a walk among our worshipers and be NAKED. Let us show the world our ugly, naked bodies, even tell them every detail of our penis size, to the last inch, and let us see what they say.

And out they went, the naked author, and his naked narrator, and his naked, invented universe, and they took a leak. And what happened?

All those postmodernist children saw something that seemed to be naked, but they thought that could not be. They were confused. There sure must be something underneath that nakedness, they thought - trained as they were to discover depth and wisdom in white canvases with red dots in one corner or heaps of trash behind glass in museums, labelled in golden letters, for example BEUYS.

So they said:

“The Emperor wears that beautiful “Social Study Shirt”!”

“Listen!” shouted the author, and all his invented characters. “WE ARE NAKED!”

“But there must be more to it,” said the children, ignoring the information.

“I love those “Cool Writing Style Jeans” with deliberate holes and all ripped and torn on purpose, and the permanent marker drawings he has filled them with - that is so SYMBOLICAL,” sighed a young hippie girl, aged 68 and wearing her body measurements according to the novel’s suggestions.

“Listen!” shouted the author, and all his invented characters. “WE ARE NAKED!”

“No, seriously, Vonnegut! Now you listen!”

Said the literary critic with a penchant to indoctrinate his environment with the absolute truth of his relativistic approach. “You clearly don’t have enough distance to yourself to understand that you wear the toga of your time, addressing important political issues in satirical, symbolical language. Your drawings are only superficially silly. They contain a deep message for the world! And your obstinate insistence on measuring every single penis in the plot is a clear sign that you have studied Sigmund Freud and reinterpreted him according to the needs of postmodern society!”

“Listen!” shouted the author, and all his invented characters. “WE ARE NAKED!”
“And who is Freud by the way?”

“Ah - there you give yourself away, Mr Trout, oh, sorry, Mr Vonnegut! Pretending NOT TO KNOW FREUD is a BRILLIANT MOVE!”

“Okay, whatever! We are not naked then! We carry the sky on our shoulders like Atlas! We have explained everything in the universe and expressed our discoveries in the vintage fashion we chose to wear!” said the naked author and his invented characters.

“WHAT? With that silly story? Don’t you think you are a bit too full of yourself? After all, it is just a badly written bunch of half-witty slapstick jokes!”answered the literary critic, who was used to be in opposition to whatever argument he heard, as his superiority-complex required it of him.

“I AM NOT LISTENING ANYMORE! BREAKFAST IS OVER! Eh … What’s for lunch?” said the author, who was unsure whether or not he had dressed in the morning.

So that is my opinion on the qualities of this novel. I loved Cat's Cradle, and appreciated Slaughterhouse-Five without really liking it, and liked this one, without really appreciating it.

My notes, as taken while reading, illustrate my thoughts just as randomly as the novel deals with the different questions (un)covered in the plot.

Notes. Random.

Kilgore Trout buys two copies of his own book:

That is hilarious, and would make a great satire, if I hadn’t happened to come across an authentic, real Sunday newspaper with an interview featuring a Swedish crime author, who decorates her whole house with bookshelves stuffed with hundreds of copies of her own books, matching colours as suggested by Muriel Spark in The Driver's Seat!

Chimpanzees for presidents:

People yelling “Hail the Chief”, - Well, that would have been a great satire, if reality had not trumped it already.

Bad chemicals:

Well, if we can’t blame it on gods, or political systems or parents or sexual oppression, bad chemicals is the next best thing. It’s not us, it’s the chemicals we’re made of and that we add voluntarily to the already mixed cocktail in our brain. “Poof!” The explosion is not our fault!

Purpose of life:

To be the eye and the ear and the conscience of the creator of the universe. Well, this actually is funny! Dear God Who Art Not In Heaven,[ or anywhere else,] If You Had Existed, I Would Have Advised You: Don’t take bad advice!

Irritating, supposedly funny list of the exact measurements of different characters’ penises, when aroused, and some women’s measures at different phases in life. No comment! Except for the ones I have already made.
Suppose it is meant to make fun of male competition, or something. But it is quite silly, and boring.

Anti-war comments. Well yeah! Social critic, he is.

Story within the story:

Kilgore Trout meeting people who read his novels before using it as toilet paper, fits with the meaning of the childish drawing on the front cover of my copy. Well yeah, literary critic, he is.

Temporary Verdict (somewhere in the middle of the novel):

This will probably be judged as deepest of the deep by nostalgic post-Woodstock hippies who remember their own ramblings under the influence of bad chemicals, and think they themselves may get away with being deep if they just claim that “Breakfast of Champions” is a masterpiece. Emperor’s New Clothes.

Complete nonsense on the creation of the universe, time, and myths, concluding with:

“Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes!”

My response:

Well, yeah! They can also be a hot air balloon, or the dog shit you just described to me, Mr Vonnegut! Before giving me the details of a mile-long penis. Am I repeating myself? Well, yeah, so is he!

Pity for his fellow countrymen:

“They were doing their best to live like people invented in novels!” (Note within the notes: now it would be movies!)
My appeal: “Invent less violent, penis-fixated, crazy people to be imitated by real people, and we might see some improvement, maybe!”

Very true, and very funny:

Describing a marriage as an act played by machines: money making machine, housekeeping machine, loving machine, crying machine, drinking machine, fucking machine, apologising machine and slow forgiving machine, and so on, and so on…

The reading machine here has a good time!

Listen! Listen! Listen!

There is more to it than meets the eye (for the eye is distracted by silly drawings!): Racism, Homosexuality, Art, Creativity, all in there, in a big monster mash of a mess!

I could go on and on.

But what good would more information do, to paraphrase the author?
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,424 reviews3,379 followers
October 14, 2019
What is life we live from day to day? What do we eat at breakfast? How do we cope with our problems and what are we doing for fun? What dreams do we dream and what ideas do we have in our heads?
The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.

Under the close scrutiny of Kurt Vonnegut our quotidian life turns into the most preposterous occupation in the world.
He spoke of his wife and son again, acknowledged that white robots were just like black robots, essentially, in that they were programmed to be whatever they were, to do whatever they did.

Some obey God, some obey government, some obey voices in their heads and some obey no one.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
969 reviews17.6k followers
May 23, 2023
You’ll have to forgive me for saying this, but having spent a violent youth under somewhat violent circumstances, this innocent bystander’s bird’s eye view of a total fracas hit the Golden Buzzer for Vonnegut in my young eyes.

He could henceforth do no wrong for my jejune and confused self because he Was that innocent bystander.

Vonnegut’s Nom de Guerre, in case you missed his point, is Kilgore Trout.

Yes, Trout is Kurt’s alter ego.

He was a shell-shocked recluse of a great SF writer (Vonnegut’s beginnings were in SF writing, like his Player Piano), who, like Stephen Dedalus, viewed the world from a coolly remote vantage point:

“Disinterested... paring his fingernails.”

A sensitive onlooker in the grotesquely violent American political landscape of the 1970’s.

And no, it is surely no accident that - back then - political repression was increasing as the mores of a post-Pill public (like his schizophrenic son, Mark) were getting looser!

C’est la guerre.

And ‘Kilgore’ Vonnegut - caught in the crossfire of craziness as Watergate boiled over and his sick son Mark called out for help - is suspended, shell-shocked, within the mad violence of a local car dealer’s armed schizophrenia.

No, it’s not a happy read.

But Kurt Vonnegut had to write it.

For had he not let off steam by writing it -

The same Grim Ghoul of Madness woulda torn him apart.
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,395 followers
May 30, 2022
"I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose."
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Conan Doyle's famous quote came to mind as I was reading this boisterous book: it was as if Vonnegut had decided to empty his cluttered attic of kooky ideas in order to share them with the rest of the world. In many ways, it reminded me of the underground magazines I helped to publish as a student; all printed on stiff sheets of A4 paper and haphazardly stapled together.
I didn't enjoy this as freely as I did Galápagos, mostly because much of the book is defiantly and deliberately infantile (he did caper through life with a self-confessed immaturity), but what is abundantly clear is that Kurt Vonnegut Jr was a creative genius several years ahead of his time.

This is a quick read, partly due to the author's own marker pen doodles popping up between blocks of narrative.
In essence, the book is a veritable salad bar of supposition, a depository of doctrines and an info dump of great ingenuity.

What I most love about Mr Vonnegut, apart from his satirical humour, is the man's rebellious nature and his devil-may-care keenness to offend: but this went hand-in-glove with his resentment of social injustice and his wonderful humanity.

Suffice to say, our modern world needs more Kurt Vonneguts!
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,183 followers
July 1, 2020
"As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen."

Me too, Mr. Vonnegut. Me too. I'm not quite approaching my fiftieth, but yeh, me too.

In Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut writes as an author writing an author and their hapless creations. He uses satire to poke fun at things like:

"The chief weapon of the sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was much too late, how heartless and greedy they were."

"If a person stopped living up to expectations ... everybody went on imagining that the person was living up to expectations anyway."

White-washed American history:
"1492 -- The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them."

"Group mentality:  
"They trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.”

Vonnegut also uses this book to question whether any of us has free will. Are we at the mercy of some creator, our stories already written? Are we at the mercy of our brain chemistry, which dictates what we do and when we do it?

I generally love satire and Vonnegut does it well. There were several "chuckle moments" in this book. There were also a few parts where it dragged but for the most part, I enjoyed it. 

I will note that the "N" word is used extensively. It's offensive (I hope) to modern ears, but it gets our attention and forces white people to reflect on our own ugliness and complicity in racism. It shoves a mirror right up in our faces.

Vonnegut uses stereotypes of Black people in order to speak against racism, which is a prevalent theme throughout the book. The stereotyping of his characters was used to portray the idiocy of seeing people with preconceived ideas based on one aspect of who they are.

I appreciate that Mr. Vonnegut placed the problem of racism firmly on the heads of white people. When his characters filled a stereotype, it was because white people had given them no other choice.

For example, Black characters were sometimes criminals and drug dealers, but that was because white people either wouldn't hire them or, when they did, wouldn't pay them a living wage. The characters were left with little choice but to engage in criminal behavior in order to support their families. 

White people often create stereotypes for minorities, force them into filling it, and then blame the minority for fitting the stereotype instead of placing the blame where it truly belongs.

It infuriates me when I hear white people talk about crime in inner cities, usually to turn the topic away from Black people being brutalized and murdered by police. They use the stereotype (news alert: most Black people are not criminals) in order to place the blame on the victims. 

But we deserve the blame. We created the extreme poverty in which many Black and Latinx people live. We created the drug problem. We need to start accepting responsibility for the problems we created. Not Blacks, not Latinx. Us.

So don't give me that BS about drugs in the inner city and "black on black" crime (as though white people never kill other white people). It's a poor excuse and you know it.

(Not to mention that even if someone does engage in criminal activity, they never deserve to be murdered because of it.)

So anyway... back to the book.

The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the clever way in which Vonnegut used this book to speak against institutional racism. 

Though this is a very serious subject and the book is philosophical at heart, it is written in a light-hearted way. It's a quick and easy read and I didn't even quite notice what Vonnegut was doing until I reflected on the book after having finished it. 

There are many truths in this book and Vonnegut's use of satire to point them out was brilliant.

(June 2020 classic-of-the-month)
Profile Image for Joe.
97 reviews18 followers
July 6, 2007
Good old Kurt (God rest his soul) has truly helped me understand what all this fuss is about "wide open beavers".
This is a quick and rewarding read (with funny drawings) that makes you think about the world in a totally new way. I love how Vonnegut writes about America as a civilization which died out long ago and is addressing an audience who knows nothing of it.
This book is hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time. It follows a sci-fi author (Trout) of Vonnegut's own creation who meets a Pontiac dealership owner (Hoover) in the 1970's. Their meeting puts Hoover over the edge of sanity through one of Trout's novels, making him believe he's the only person with free will in the universe, and that everyone else is a robot (a meat machine as Vonnegut puts it).
The highlight for me is one of Trout's novels about an alien race that communicates only by farting and tap-dancing. You have to read it to see what happens...
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
April 19, 2016
I needed this book. You have no idea how much so. Vonnegut is just so hilarious. There is a certain sense of wisdom in perfect irony, and Vonnegut’s irony is anything but perfect. It boarders upon the outrageous and plain mad. His ideas are crazy yet strangely perceptive; it’s like he sees beyond the idiotic surface world of human culture, of life itself, and makes fun of it. He points at it and has a good old laugh. If you read his books, he’ll share it with you too! He's good like that.

“The things other people have put into my head, at any rate, do not fit together nicely, are often useless and ugly, are out of proportion with one another, are out of proportion with life as it really is outside my head.”

His novels are so individual in their weirdness. He explores, and perhaps even defines, an anti-narrative style. The first chapter of the book, along with its many intertextual references to the real world, tells you how the plot is going to end. He tells you what’s going to happen to his wacky characters; he informs you that they will die, and even goes as far as to explicitly say when. This isn’t a spoiler: it’s on the first page of the book. But, that’s merely the surface level of Vonnegut’s brilliant writing.

He also uses self-reflective addresses in the middle of a narrative sequence: his own personal voice comes through, the voice of the individual, and acknowledges the fact that this is actually a book. This may not sound like much, but it’s very unusual. How many books randomly point out the fact that they are actually a book? In the middle of chapters there are so many interruptions; they’re semi-autobiographical statements because Vonnegut, oddly, stops and explains his characterisation of Killgore Trout. He stops and informs you of the choices he has made. This is wonderfully comic. It may even sound like an interruption of the story, but it’s not. Vonnegut is part of the story. Without the use of such an inventive and transgressive mode of writing, this book would be comparable to one of Trout’s failed science fiction novels.

“Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.”


If you’ve made it this far into my review, you may wonder what I’m actually talking about. If you’ve not read anything by Vonnegut, then my review may come off as a little strange, but Vonnegut is strange. Superbly so. He is witty in his bizarrely written narrative. You have to read his books to understand. I’m having a certain degree of trouble to actually express what I mean here. Vonnegut is just unique. Trust me: he’s worth your time.

There were moments in his book that produced within me real gut wrenching laughter. Not a simple chuckle or a casual outburst, but real laughter. The type that brightens your day and make other people think that you, too, have gone slightly mad. But who cares? I’ve not laughed like that in a long time. Perhaps since the last Vonnegut book I read. The persona that narrates this novel is a real oddity; it’s almost like Vonnegut has written a story about his imaginary friends, and about imaginary parts of himself. I’m not entirely sure how he manages to pull it off. Few others could.

Postscript- I gave this book five stars because I enjoyed it immensely, but it wasn’t as good as Slaughter House 5. I wonder if any of his other books actually will be. Also the image in my review is one of many ridiculous images Vonnegut includes within the story. Because why the hell not?
Profile Image for Anthony Vacca.
423 reviews280 followers
April 24, 2014
Back before I nicked a diploma and put that particular time and place in the rearview, there were only two authors that nearly all of my fellow Liberal Arts College English majors blabbered-on about unendingly: Chuck Palahniuk and Kurt Vonnegut. (Lucky for us all that the Second Coming of Christ didn’t happen just once but twice!) Even though I had read and liked Slaughterhouse Five as a young, emotionally-stunted and delusional fifteen year-old, I had also dutifully read through six of Chucky’s stinkers by the time I got to college. Add to the equation the variable that most of these hep cats thought Shakespeare and Hemingway (two of me best mates at the time) were talentless hacks, and what you get the other side of that equal sign is an Anthony that is going to take his chances and steer clear of the Vonnegut circle jerk sessions.

With that introductory diatribe out of the way, I can now say that, yes, I was wrong about Vonnegut, and so now we can all move right on along to my review.

Breakfast of Champions is a sad and gloomy slice of metafiction that still manages to find a sense of humor about what an awful fucking nightmare it is to exist in this sad sorry sack of shit of an excuse for a world. If read aloud, every sentence in this book should end with a sigh and a defeated glance out the window at nothing but a bleak view of nothing.

Vonnegut writes this book, as he does with most of his books, through the 1st-person-POV guise of being a weary misanthropic novelist named Kurt Vonnegut, whose thankless job it is to write another goddamned book about all of these horrible (but also (sometimes (very seldom) ) wonderful) people we’re stuck with in this life. BoC goes about this in a conversational, vernacular-heavy, cliché-ridden prose style that still manages to be quite charming and clever. The focus of this book is the hours leading up to a chance meeting between Kilgore Trout, a loser who writes off-beat science fiction novels that nobody reads, and Dwayne Hoover, a successful car salesman who is starting to lose his shit in a major way. Along the way there is plenty of time for digressions full of deadpan takedowns of American culture as well as for dozens of endearing little doodles from our author.

The end result is a novel that reads like something an off-beat science fiction novelist would write if given the task of explaining the United States in the 1970’s to an alien species. Vonnegut makes it clear that there is so much in this world that makes him angry, and getting older does nothing to ease his resentment. But even in the face of murder, hate, racism and greed, Vonnegut can’t help but care about people and sympathize for what it must be like for not just his characters but for every last one of us who goes about chug-chugging along through this nightmare we all share together. And it’s that big god-damned heart of Vonnegut’s that’s the real treasure of this wonderful novel.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,458 followers
July 22, 2022
Breakfast of Champions came out in 1973 which was a year that happened between 1972 and 1974. These years are numbered after the birth of Jesus Christ who was a radical religious teacher from Judea. Judea was in the Roman Empire. The Romans came from Italy, some of them are probably still living there. Actually after some digging around they found there was a mistake and Jesus was really born around 4 BC. BC means Before Christ. So that means Jesus was born four years before Jesus.

Kurt Vonnegut writes like a drunken person who feels he has to explain the simplest thing to the reader, so he keeps adding helpful definitions of things as he goes along, such as that the Star of Bethlehem was a whole galaxy going up like a celluloid collar. Celluloid was the first type of plastic they made. It was a homogeneous colloidal dispersion of nitrocellulose and camphor. They used it for everything, collars included. Collars were – okay, you know what a collar is.

This is the story of Dwayne Hoover, a big shot in a nowhere town called Midland City, which is referred to many times in an unkind way as the asshole of the universe. There are some real Midland Cities in the USA. I wonder if anyone who lived in one of those ever had words with Kurt Vonnegut. He would have said well, I made up my Midland City, and they might have said Yeah? Have you got any proof of that?

This is also the story of Kilgore Trout, sort of, who was a failed science fiction writer. He must have been fairly terrible because he could only get his stories published in porn magazines, as filler material between the pictures of what Kurt Vonnegut calls beaver.

Readers should be aware that this book’s woozy deadpan humour includes some terminology that might raise contemporary bloodpressure. There are like a bajillion uses of the n word. These are used ironically, sarcastically, despairingly, anguishedly and deliberately shockingly. Deadpan is a form of humour where the joker never cracks a smile to show you it’s safe to laugh. Pan was an old slang word for face.

This book is one of those not uncommon merrygorounds where the author becomes a character in his own book and explains to the other characters that he’s made them all up and can get them to do anything he wants to. You might think that would be a big existential crisis and all but the characters are having too many problems to concentrate on the philosophical aspects of this, problems like being attacked by a guy having a psychotic breakdown, etc.

This book has a broken bitter heart of despair, you can feel its dark heat behind each joke, each nonsequitor and each surreal spiral. You heard of a love letter, well, this is a hate letter to the America Kurt Vonnegut found himself to be living in. I read this a long time ago and I thought it wouldn’t have any bite left, but it really did.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
859 reviews2,179 followers
May 8, 2019

Breakfast of Champignons

Now It Can Be Told, Thank God

So I finished reading this novel soon after I arrived at my hotel, and I thought I’d better write a review while it was still fresh in my mind. But, first, I decided to go down to the cocktail lounge for a drink. All the seats at the bar were taken, so I had to sit by myself at a table for four.

The waitress took my order. A dry martini. When she returned, she placed it before me and said, “Here it is. The breakfast of champions!”

I sucked on the lemon rind, and discarded it in the ashtray. Then somebody came up and asked, “Do you mind if I join you?” He introduced himself as Kilgore Trout. I recognised his name as one of the writers who was appearing at the Arts Festival.

We had barely started a conversation, when another man came up and sat down. At first, he paid no attention to me. He looked at Kilgore Trout and said, “Mr. Trout, I love you.”

Trout looked at him and asked, “Why, thank you. And who might you be?”

He said he was Kurt Vonnegut, the author. Coincidentally, he was the writer of the book I'd just finished reading. I didn’t recall seeing his name on the program. In fact, I had a vague recollection that he might have died. Or had he won the Nobel Prize? Or both? I couldn’t remember. All that mattered to me was that he was alive when he wrote this book. Or somebody was.

Trout didn’t seem to recognise Vonnegut. “What have you written?”

“Well, for one,” Vonnegut replied, “you could say I wrote you...but whether or not you actually do, is another matter.”

Trout simply looked back at him, puzzled. Though it didn't seem to bother him that he might have been created by an author.

“I'm sorry I made you suffer a lot. Now I want you to feel a wholeness and inner harmony such as I have never allowed you to feel before.”

"Okay, then. Good."

Trout finished his drink, and disappeared, ostensibly of his own accord, hopefully whole and harmonious, leaving me with Vonnegut.

“Thank God you’re here. The word is you're quite a character! By the way...where is your creator? Hasn’t he arrived yet? I thought you two would be inseparable.”

I laughed as nonchalantly as I could. I sipped my martini, trying to think of something witty to say. I had no idea what he was talking about.

I could go on and on with the intimate details of our conversation, but what good is more information?

You already know enough about human beings. And so on, etc. You don’t need to read a novel or a review from me.

Then, he said, “Some persons seem to like you, and others seem to hate you, and you must wonder why. They are simply liking machines and hating machines.”

I had never heard anybody make a comment like that before. But I couldn’t argue with him. It sounded right.

“You,” he continued, “are an experiment by the Creator of the Universe.”

I wanted to laugh again, but he didn’t seem to be joking.

“You are the only creature in the entire Universe who has free will.”

“What about you?” I enquired. “You’re a writer.”

He shook his head and got up. “Not any longer. Would you like another martini?” I nodded.

I never saw him again, nor my drink.

Somebody else sat in his seat.

I looked at my watch. It was time I went. “Are you going to the show tonight?” I asked.

“The big show is in my head,” he said.

What did he mean by that? It sounded impressive. I tried to imagine what it must be like inside his head. I tried to look at things from his perspective. Perhaps I tried a little too hard, for the next time I looked at our table, neither one of us was there.


Breakfast of Champions
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,687 followers
February 15, 2017
“in nonsense is strength”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions


Sometimes, I think of Breakfast of Champions as top shelf Vonnegut (five stars). Sometimes I think of it as second shelf Vonnegut (four stars). I think it could exist easily on both shelves. Since I own a couple copies, and have read it a couple times, I will forever physically keep it on two shelves (Library of America on one, Laurel Mass-Market Paperback on a lower shelf). The Laurel Mass-Market is also the one I try to bribe and incentivize my son into reading. I'm sure the picture of the asshole and the beavers might just be the inspiration my sixteen-year old needs to start this book.

Here is a picture of Vonnegut's drawing of an asshole tattooed on a young man's arm:


Here is a picture of Vonnegut's drawings of beavers, in what looks like a Finnish copy of Breakfast of Champions (if you look really close you can also see Vonnegut's drawing of women's underwear bleeding through in blue):


Speaking of vaginas. Today is Valentines Day. Christians, and by Christians I mean a Pope (I can't remember who), tried to turn a Roman festival into a Christian holiday honoring a martyr (this also could be a common myth). I'm more fascinated, however, by Roman festivals than I am by martyrs or myths. Anyway, Valentines was supposed to smother out Lupercalia, a day where men dressed in the skins of sacrificed goats, in imitation of Lupercus, and ran around the walls of old Rome, with the thongs called februa in their hands whipping people (mostly people with XX chromosomes) who happened to be around.

Here is an artsy painting of men dressed in goat skins whipping women:


Women, girls, and childbearing young women would line up to receive lashes from these whip-wielding Romans. Supposedly this was meant to ensure fertility, or at least prevent sterility, in women and ease the pains of childbirth (I'm not sure how the math works -- as if Pain from a whip is a negative (-) and pain of childbirth is a positive (+)). Anyway, I started and finished this book on Valentines. I also took my wife out for Mexican food tonight and bought her exactly 2.2lbs of dark chocolates.

Here is a graphic showing how people decide which restaurants to go to on Valentines:


The only reason I bring this up is today is Valentines and also because Vonnegut wrote published this book in 1973. Since I was born in almost in the dead center of 1974, the reality is I spent some period of 1973 -- as this book was flooding the Earth -- being conceived (I try not to think too hard about this) and gestated (or this) and eventually birthed (or this either). I think, perhaps, my birth was so easy for my mom because of Vonnegut's book. Well, this book. Yes, I am saying that in February 1974, this book with a drawing of two beavers in it, might have been a literal februa for my mother. Perhaps, Vonnegut pounding these words into existence somehow helped in my conception. Perhaps, Vonnegut is the ONE man in the Universe completely responsible for my existence. Well yes, there is my father, but this is way beyond Fathers and Sons. All I know for certain that part of my brain since my teenage years has been marked, folded, energized by Vonnegut. Not through magic or some mystical force, but rather through the teeth and bite and whip of his words. The old fashioned way.

Here is a picture of my brain receiving its extra fold from Vonnegut's at age 5 months:

[image error]
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
October 20, 2014
When I read this novel as a teenager, I remember finding the following paragraph strikingly witty:
1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.
Though since then, the point has been made even more economically by the well-known poster below. Maybe it was directly inspired by Vonnegut?


If you want a slightly longer version, this page is very good.

Profile Image for Justin (Look Alive Books).
278 reviews2,259 followers
April 13, 2017
So this guy, Dwayne Hoover, is a rich owner of stuff, primarily a Pontiac dealership, and he has these bad chemicals in his brain. Kilgore Trout is this completely unknown science fiction writer whose stories are printed in adult magazines and such. Anyway, Dwayne reads one of Trout's novels and he thinks it's real which really messes with those bad chemicals in his brain.

The book is this collision course of these two meeting each other with all kinds of distractions and subplots and observations thrown in the mix. Vonnegut himself is a character in the book, and if you think it already sounds weird, the last third of the book gets even weirder! But, oh man oh man, it is fascinating! It's hilarious! It's pessimistic! It's honestly one of he strangest books I have ever read, but it is also the most fun I've had reading a book in a long time. And the themes presented aren't fun themes. Vonnegut hits on some pretty heavy stuff, and he never holds back in how he presents it.

There are some very interesting illustrations as well. They don't really add much to the story, but they are there. Sometimes it's a picture of an apple, sometimes it's a road sign, sometimes it's an interesting take on human anatomy. That place a pretty big role as well. About halfway through, Vonnegut takes some time to break down female and male measurements and keeps it going throughout the rest of the book. Again, not sure what it added to the story, but it was there.

A lot of stuff was just there. And it was awesome. I don't know why.

He really hits on humans as robots and free will. Vonnegut has a pretty bleak outlook on life and society in general, and he presents his worldview in a very unique way in this book. For such negativity, I had a blast reading it. It was much more straightforward and, in my opinion, it was much better than Slaughterhouse Five. I can't even remember why I wanted to read this, but wow was it a great surprise. I don't think I'll read anything like it again.

Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,226 followers
May 10, 2016
Phew, it has been a LOOONG time since I've read Vonnegut. I mean "classic" Vonnegut. It feels good to be back!

I mean no offense to his most recent work, but it just doesn't compare with what he put out from about the '60s through to the '80s. It's all good stuff. I mean, I've read about a dozen books of his and I don't recall a true stinker in the lot. But if I'm going to recommend "a Vonnegut" to the interested and uninitiated, it's going to be something like Breakfast of Champions from 1973.

This chuckle-full and sometimes hilarious tour de force of satirical wit is a razor-sharp criticism of humanity's worst traits: its greed, its pure and unadulterated avarice, its lack of a moral compass...

Ah, that last one is a tricky one. Vonnegut was no saint and he doesn't expect anyone else to be. However, a little decency and compassion would go a long way. Jesus fucking Christ, Vonnegut seems to say in just about every one of his books, can't we all stop acting like shits for second?!

I won't try to describe the plot of Breakfast of Champions. The plot is seldom the point in a Vonnegut novel. Oh sure, things happen, after a fashion. But it's more about people and ideas, and people with ideas, for better or worse.

I will however say that this book is a good starting point - not a necessary one, but a good one - from which to begin a Vonnegut reading journey. His recurring character, the strange and often estranged author Kilgore Trout is fully explained here, much more so than in other books in which he makes an appearance, at least in the ones I've read. In fact, many of the theories and rules of Vonnegut's world, his parallel universe, if you will, are laid out in this one, so I highly recommend starting here. Then again, you won't go wrong starting elsewhere. Just start.
Profile Image for Jean-Luke.
Author 1 book384 followers
December 21, 2021
So I may have decided to read this because of a passage detailing the penis sizes of various characters. Many of them are white and a few of them are black, and Dwayne Hoover believes they're all robots. I think all books should include such a passage. And if that doesn't peak your interest, perhaps the drawings of an asshole * or of a wide open beaver () will.
I promise that there's more depth and heart to this book than I'm making it sound. It's a strange one--aren't they all?--but a good one. In various spots I was reminded of I Heart Huckabees, Fargo, Gentlemen Broncos, John Irving, and one or more Wes Anderson movies.
Not sure I was a fan of Kurt Vonnegut as a character in the book, which I know is a thing he sometimes does. Vonnegut himself gave it a C. It was made into an apparently disasterous movie in 1999. And so on.
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews780 followers
May 15, 2016
What the hell was that?
I finished reading Breakfast of Champions, closed the book, went to Goodreads, stared at that big empty review box, ate a cookie, stared at the screen some more, hands hovering over the keyboard, not moving.
And so on.

Now, if you are thinking “what is that stupid paragraph above?” Don’t worry about it.

My Achilles heel as a reader of modern fiction is that I don’t cope well with unconventional narrative styles. Streams of consciousness, omitted quotation marks, massive infodumps, pages of philosophical ramblings etc. I can not cope with such artistry, and I usually give up by page 50 or so.

Breakfast of Champions is certainly an unconventional narrative. While the main story arc moves forward in a linear fashion, Kurt Vonnegut makes so many tangential subplots, flashbacks, and anecdotes that I often forget where I was in the storyline; not to mention those lovely cartoonish drawings of his that appear every few pages. It is a chaotic mess of a narrative. The strangest thing is, I don’t mind, it never occurred to me to give up on the book. Only Vonnegut can get away with this kind of thing.

The main story arc is to do with a very successful businessman called Dwayne Hoover slowly losing his mind and eventually runs amok after reading a sci-fi book by Kilgore Trout called “Now It Can Be Told”. Trout is an obscure* sci-fi author who shows up in many Vonnegut books. The plotline is mostly unpredictable in spite of a “climax” which is clearly telegraphed from the beginning of the book, but the side stories, vignettes, and those wonderful drawings all come out of the left field.

Breakfast of Champions is completely bonkers, though. While it is decidedly not sci-fi it includes quite a few wacky synopses of Kilgore Trout’s sci-fi stories and novels. The most important one is, of course, “Now It Can Be Told”, which is about a man who is the only real person in the world while everybody else is a robot. This book pushed the already unstable Dwayne Hoover over the edge, Breakfast of Champions nearly had the same effect on me (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).

When Vonnegut is not describing weird sci-fi plots, he would give you measurements of various characters’ penis, wacky factoid about alcohol (“yeast excrement”), and show you his drawing of a cow
, or underpants
, a bucket of KFC’s fried chicken etc; often with the refrain of “and so on” at the end of passages. If your mind starts to wander he will cleverly bring you back with “Listen:”. Not content with stuffing the book with eccentric characters, Vonnegut also wrote himself into the novel, doing some very surreal things as the creator of the book’s universe.

Breakfast of Champions is a beautiful mess of a novel, even Vonnegut acknowledges it in his preface:
“I think I am trying to clear my head of all the junk in there— the assholes, the flags, the underpants. Yes— there is a picture in this book of underpants. I’m throwing out characters from my other books, too. I’m not going to put on any more puppet shows.”

There is a method to his madness, of course, the book is sharply satirical of life in the US (or the world in general), the destruction of the environment, poverty, social inequality etc. There are also surprisingly grim vignettes that come out of nowhere (well, almost everything comes out of nowhere in this book).

Breakfast of Champions is often very funny and always eccentric. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I liked this mess of a book until after I finished it, then I thought “yeah, it’s pretty cool”. And so on.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,966 followers
July 28, 2018
It's really indecent how much I like this book. It's nearly as indecent as how Vonnegut treated his character Kilgore Trout.

Mind you, he doesn't rob, cheat or abuse the character in the traditional sense. In fact, the author shows up, treats the damn guy to success, wealth and fame, tells him he's gonna win some fancy awards in the future, and he does it only because he can.

What a damn jerk.

I mean, look at all these other SF authors other than Kilgore Trout who spend their lives writing stories in perfect irony and obscurity, only to die unsung and unloved, UNLIKE Kilgore Trout.

This kind of unflinching gorgeous tribute (in perfect irony) to SF authors, in general, makes me weep. It stabs me in the heart.

Oh, other than that, this novel is PACKED with damn funny lines, ideas for SF novels, scathing satires of our entire way of life... including all the many racial and sexual horrorshows that we call our culture. Someone has probably counted all the myriad other preoccupations and nonsense. I did not. But it's overflowing. And funny.

And what's almost as good...? Idea after idea after idea of great SF novels meant to hold up a mirror to us and make us ashamed.


Oddly enough, I was fully prepared to hate this book and Vonnegut in general because he's popular and so many people who would sneer at SF would swear by him. Unfortunately for me, he's WEIRD and screwball and a delight to read. Damn it!
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,023 reviews4,066 followers
December 2, 2012
The House of Trouts:

Kilgore Trout’s latest book, World’s Funniest Thermonuclear Accidents, was forthcoming from Michael O’Mara. He shared a bathroom with Kilgore Trout, whose latest book, Complications in the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, had forthcome from Yale Press. The two Trouts co-rented a kitchen with Kilgore Trout, whose book I Was a Teenage Obergruppenführer, had not found a publisher. All three Trouts did not read each other’s books and did not discuss literary matters at all. When one Trout saw another, he said: “Nice day, Mr. Trout.” If one Trout was working on his book and the other Trout spotted this, he said: “Hard at work, Mr. Trout?” One time, Kilgore Trout broke Kilgore Trout’s prize antique cup, handed down nine generations of the Trout family. Kilgore Trout looked at his shattered heritage and said: “Accidents happen, Mr. Trout.”

Original Review:

Kurt at his most caustic, rambunctious and playful. When Vonnegut releases Kilgore Trout into the world on his fiftieth birthday and he looses the ghost of his father, this scabrous novel becomes a personal and moving account of a man, his father, and a big old lemon of a world. There’s an early clip of Kurt reading from this on YouTube, where the tale was told in first-person from Dwayne Hoover’s POV (and Kurt was but a phantom), but the third-person narrator opens up the metafictional element that proves integral to the heart of the novel. But listen: this is a furious assault against all that America holds dear, an impish black comedy mixed with his typical whimsy, pitch-perfect satire, and unique Midwestern charm. A film version was attempted in 1999 with that towering comedic presence Bruce Willis to disastrous results, turning real wit into sitcom farce. So for those unsure about this strange little novel, take my word that this ranks among Kurt’s greatest books, along with the nine or so others of equal import: Mother Night, The Sirens of Titan, Jailbird, etc.

Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
545 reviews147 followers
December 22, 2020
In spite of a few funny one-liners and a humdinger of a premise, I don't like this book half as much as Vonnegut's earlier work. It isn't just the fact that it's irritatingly repetitive, which it is, or that it grossly overuses the N-word, which it does. It's this: Vonnegut seems tired, winded. His spirits are flagging. There is wistfulness but little warmth, as though a chill has settled on him. My favorite Vonnegut puts on a brave face and holds out hope, speaks from a place of optimism. This Vonnegut? Well, this guy is damned depressing.

There may yet be great value in considering things that are damned depressing, though. From time to time. And you can trust Vonnegut to make it worth your while. Although repetitive, he provides a lot of grist for the mill, philosophically speaking.

3.5 stars out of 5. "Not my favorite Vonnegut" still means it's a really good book. But it is too blunt to be a charmer and too bleak to be a comfort.
Profile Image for Brett C(urrently overseas again).
784 reviews165 followers
May 2, 2021
This was an interesting book. It was layered with black humor only the way Kurt Vonnegut could write. There really is no plot, but the reading is very unique and paints a picture for the reader. The structuring is simple: simple sentences, simple syntax, and simple dialogue that gives way to big ideas. I found myself thinking about it even when I wasn't reading: in the car on the way to work, in the evening. The illustrations that highlight the narrator's ideas are common sketches found on the covers of his other works.

I felt Kurt Vonnegut immeshed himself in the story as the Creator of the Universe. His purpose was to purge and cleanse himself in some way. Maybe his emotions, or things built up over the years, who knows. In the end he released his characters from the story.

I saw common themes he uses to include freewill and mental illness. The two characters merged in the end and concluded an unusual story. Overall in enjoyed it. Thanks!
Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
467 reviews161 followers
March 13, 2022
This is the second book I've read by Kurt Vonnegut, the first one was the masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five.

Breakfast of Champions is right up there alongside it, another masterpiece.

This one tells the story of Kilgore Trout, an unpopular science fiction writer who travels to Midland City to speak at a convention. Before the convention, a car salesman named Dwayne Hoover goes insane after reading Trout's book written from the perspective of the Creator of the Universe. Hoover goes on a killing rampage and the narrator of the novel frees Kilgore Trout.

The book is written from the perspective of a zany omniscient narrator who satirizes modern society, culture and the human race.

It's a sad, hilarious, and absurd roller coaster of a novel.
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