Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#8: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Third-string sci-fi writer Kilgore Trout makes a pilgrimage to a small midwestern town, where a brush with an unstable car salesman sets off a sad series of events in Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions.

I have been a big Vonnegut fan since my teen years and have read practically all of his work, but somehow this one slipped through the cracks.  When I saw it at giveaway prices for my beloved Kindle I snatched it up and gave it a try.

In a way I'm glad I did not read this as a teenager because I think I have a greater appreciation for it now.  Despite some funny drawings and observations it is as melancholy a piece of metafiction as I've ever read. 

Vonnegut writes as if he is telling someone who is unfamiliar with the world of the early 1970s what is going on, and now some forty years later this conceit seems more resonant.  He is a major character himself in the story, literally injecting himself into a bar at the Holiday Inn at the tumultuous denouement.

Rewarding for fans of Vonnegut's work, as Breakfast of Champions features the appearances of many characters from other novels, including his alter-ego Trout.  Recommended.

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