Breakfast of Champions

A book review
by Chris Hibbard

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve had this book sitting on top of my toilet tank for months. I’ve read it before, having owned it for years, but this time I read it in chunks and snippets while doing my daily business. I love Kurt Vonnegut and have read nearly all of his works. Breakfast of Champions is not his finest hour, but it’s freaking hilarious and so sarcastic that it is subversive. I suppose that’s what one would call satire.

I appreciate the juxtaposition that occurs when an author writes from the point of view of an omniscient, objective observer. It adds a new dimension to the story, and in this particular case, the story is fairly multi-dimensional to begin with. While the entire book is not written like this, the juxtaposition between first and third person narrative works really well.  

The thing I like most about Vonnegut is his ability to make me feel like I’m being told a story over beers with an odd old uncle befuddled by the onset of senility. The pace of the book is very relaxed, only to be punctuated often by obscene, poorly-drawn illustrations of penises and assholes, and spontaneous outbursts that seem to be completely off topic. In fact, the plot of the story is fairly minor, looking back on it. The plot is more like a liquid that was poured in at the very end, to fill in the cracks between fragmented thoughts.

Where this book gets really weird is in the subtle introduction of Vonnegut as a character in his own strange universe. He is proud of his characters, and is unafraid to boast about how one of them did what he did because Vonnegut wrote him that way. It’s an over the top and surreal approach to fiction.

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~ by Chris Hibbard on October 31, 2008.

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