Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut

August 19, 2011

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

There are a hell of alot of interesting things going on in Breakfast of Champions: a distinctive authorial style that challenges fictional conventions, insightful social commentary, and an exploration of the relationship between fiction and determinism.  But because all these ideas are held together by a weak plot, the whole ends up being less than the parts.

The plot revolves around a science fiction writer, Kilgore Trout, who has “doodley-squat”, and a Pontiac dealer, Dwayne Hoover, who is “fabulously well-to-do”.  We are told that, in the future, the American Academy of Arts and Science will recognise Kilgore Trout as a great man for both his writing and his often hilarious insights, such as this:

“…we can build an unselfish society by devoting to unselfishness the frenzy we once devoted to gold and underpants.”

In the time period covered by the book, however, no one has heard of Kilgore trout, and his stories have only been published in porno magazines.  He’s surprised, then, when he is invited to speak at the Midlands Arts festival by someone who thinks that he’s written the greatest novel in the English language.

Meanwhile, bad chemicals in Dwayne Hoover’s head are sending him insane.   When he hears Kilgore Trout read one of his stories at the Arts Festival, it gives shape to his madness and he goes on a homicidal rampage. Read the rest of this entry »


Kurt Vonnegut goodness

November 19, 2009

Despite generally being a bit of a dirg, my mate Tom sent me a great link to a letter by Kurt Vonnegut that he wrote on his experiences as a POW, and of the Dresden bombings.  Read it here.

These events formed the basis for Slaughterhouse 5, a novel I absolutely loved.  A review on this sight is inevitable… in the next few years.  Hopefully.

Already evident in this letter is Vonnegut’s strong authorial voice: simple sentences, understated but frank emotion, and poignant use of repetition.