Review: Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions
By Kurt Vonnegut
(Dial Press Trade Paperback, Paperback, 9780385334204, 1999, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

A wildly confusing romp through silliness.

The Rest of It:

Vonnegut fans will chew me up and spit me out over this one, but man oh man… what a crazy book!

Dwayne Hoover is a business man who happens to be losing his mind. Kilgore Trout is a struggling science fiction writer who ends up winning the Nobel Prize. On his way to the Midland City arts festival, Kilgore encounters Dwayne in the cocktail lounge of a Holiday Inn. After being introduced to Kilgore’s work, Dwayne believes that the message within Kilgore’s book is one directed toward him personally and he completely comes undone. A lot happens, but after injuring dozens of people and biting off Kilgore’s finger,  Dwayne ends up in a mental hospital.

Clearly, I missed the message with this one and I am always searching for a message when I read. But this one was just way, way out there. Too much for my over-addled brain to compute at the time. If I rated this one on entertainment factor alone, I’d rate it pretty highly but what was with all the penis talk? Penis size is apparently a big deal to Vonnegut as it was mentioned often. Say, every few pages or at least it felt like it. For me though, entertainment factor alone wasn’t enough.

That said, this would be a great book for a book club to pick apart. I’ve talked to some other readers and they all say that this is not his best work. I’ll definitely read something else by him, but this one I can’t recommend unless you want to experience an acid trip without actually dropping acid.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

22 thoughts on “Review: Breakfast of Champions”

  1. Ugh. I get so tired of penises in books (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Safran Foer, John Updike, Philip Roth). I just bought Galapagos because I’ve never read Vonnegut and I’m still iffy about Slaughterhouse. We’ll see!

  2. Ti, that rots you didn’t love this book. I can see where you are coming from, but have to admit to loving this book! Its one of my favorites of his. Its bizarre, crazy, and screams Vonnegut. No, its not his best work, but its definitely one of his funnest. They made a movie of it, but I didn’t like it – how can you even film this book (its impossible I think). I would suggest reading Cat’s Cradle (my fave!!) or Mother Night or even Player Piano. Don’t give up on Vonnegut – he’s definitely worth reading!! Oh, as for looking for a message in each book you read – well, this is one book where you won’t find one (its just a smorgasbord of stuff). Enjoy your next read!!

    1. I can totally see why he has the following that he does. I mean, it WAS very entertaining but in a “blow your mind” kind of way. I don’t normally look for order in chaos but I found myself flipping back and forth to reread parts because I didn’t think I read them correctly the first time around. I have Cat’s Cradle and I will definitely try another but I have to tell you, I quit on Slaughterhouse and isn’t that supposed to be his best work? Visit my blog: Book Chatter


      1. People laud Slaughterhouse, but I never did. Truthfully, its my least favorite of his books. So, I can see why you DNFed it. However, Cat’s Cradle was more my cup of tea. They gave him his Masters degree based on that book (which for some reason i think is pretty cool, especially as he got it in anthropology (which I majored in)). Also, it includes personal aspects of his life, and I liked that – made the book more personal I think. Anyhow, I hope you give it a read at some point and enjoy it 🙂

  3. Oh, and just so you know, Trout makes appearances throughout Vonnegut’s other works. He’s like his alter ego – its kind of cool actually. There is even a book by Trout that was written by sci-fi author Philip Jose Farmer.

  4. I have a confession: I’ve never read Vonnegut. He intimidates me and I really must get over that, but I don’t think this book will be the one for that 🙂

    1. Haha! He isn’t intimidating. This particular book is rather funny but in it’s weird, little way. I just thought it was weird to be telling you a story, and then he’d break in and say, “his penis was 9 inches long and 3 inches wide.” I really didn’t need to know that and really?? Nine inches?


  5. Interesting that this one is so well known but not his best book, according to his fans, and so out there.

  6. I’ve never read Vonnegut. That makes me feel like I should hand in my book lover card!

  7. It takes a while to get used to Vonnegut’s style (well, it sure did for me), but I hope you don’t give up on him. I’ve got to the point where I’ve read pretty much everything he wrote and revisit him often. I’ve heard many people recommend starting with his short stories rather than his novels, and “Welcome to the Monkey House” is an excellent collection. It has some pretty weird stuff too, but also great stories like Deer in the Works, Next Door, and The Lie.

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