El's Reviews > Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
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really liked it
bookshelves: biddles, 20th-centurylit-late, science-fictiony, read-in-a-blink

I shouldn't like this book. It does things that I've disliked other modern writers for doing, authors like Adam Levin or Dave Eggers. I don't like excessive cleverness that smells like pretension. I think a story can usually stand on its own without illustrations of staplers, and if it cannot then it probably wasn't a very good story to start. I don't care for bells and whistles - they're loud and distracting and jarring.

Kurt Vonnegut might be the Godfather of Bells and Whistles. And, by god, he managed to do it without being insufferable. And, holy shit, he actually had something to say along the way.

Years ago I had surgery which took me out of commission for a while. I was staying with my boyfriend during my recovery, and we had only been together for about a month or two at the time. I wasn't able to work, I had a gaping wound, and so my days basically consisted of popping pain pills and sleeping during the day and then being up late at night. While I was up at night, I'd peruse this guy's bookshelves. It was then that I read the shit out of some Vonnegut. Somehow I never got around to reading this one - either it wasn't on my boyfriend's shelf at the time or maybe I healed up enough to be able to go back to work at that point and just never got to it.

But now, years later, in a different apartment, surrounded by different dogs, under different circumstances (ie, no gaping wound, no pain pills), I find myself up after 1 in the morning finishing off another Vonnegut book. The only thing that is the same is the boyfriend himself, in another room, sound asleep.

I think Vonnegut is the sort of author that deserves to be read in one sitting, preferably at night. No distractions. Vonnegut was a master writer, playing tricks on his readers and creating dimensions between his characters that most authors are not skilled enough or confident enough to be able to pull off.

For all intents and purposes, based on my history reading other authors who clearly were inspired by Vonnegut but failed because they thought they were being too cute, I should hate this book. But I don't. Maybe it speaks to my disdain for most of society, maybe I feel something for the schizophrenic narrator.

Mostly, though, I think it just feels like home, reading Vonnegut. Kilgore Trout is practically family.
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Reading Progress

January 19, 2014 – Started Reading
January 19, 2014 – Shelved
January 19, 2014 – Shelved as: biddles
January 19, 2014 – Shelved as: 20th-centurylit-late
January 19, 2014 – Shelved as: science-fictiony
January 19, 2014 – Shelved as: read-in-a-blink
January 20, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra Daw Hmmm... might have to read Vonnegut after all....

Steve Almost like family, El? The thought of an Uncle Kilgore makes me smile.

message 3: by El (new) - rated it 4 stars

El Alexandra wrote: "Hmmm... might have to read Vonnegut after all...."

I recommend him, Alexandra. The Kilgore Trout character is in a few different Vonnegut books, in one capacity or another. That's sorta fun.

message 4: by El (new) - rated it 4 stars

El Steve wrote: "Almost like family, El? The thought of an Uncle Kilgore makes me smile."

I could think of worse uncles to have. ;)

Yennie I suspect that the reason why you like Vonnegut and not the McSweeney's authors you mentioned is that Vonnegut is the original and the others are imitators to a degree. He's not necessarily trying to be clever; he just is. In any case, I like the comparison.

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