Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of Champions

Yup, Vonnegut just ain’t my jam.

About 4 or 5 years ago, I read Slaughterhouse-Five. It was my first Vonnegut book, and it’s such a classic, and I was sure I’d like it. Nope. I got nothing out of it but annoyance. Well I recently decided to give him another try, mostly because in a book that I absolutely loved (The Universe Versus Alex Woods), Kurt Vonnegut novels play a large role. The main character bonds with an old man over these books, and eventually the characters start a Vonnegut book club. Sooooo I decided what the hell, I would try one of the books they mentioned a few times – Breakfast of Champions. Maybe I was missing out!

Well, I wasn’t.* I still don’t get why Kurt Vonnegut is such a popular author, why he’s actually considered a great American author.

Breakfast of Champions is about Dwayne Hoover, a Pontiac dealer who is slowly going insane. When he reads a book by the not-well-known author Kilgore Trout, it tips him over the edge and he goes on a violent rampage. It’s kind of written as if it’s being told to some alien race who doesn’t really get what humans or America are. And Kurt randomly writes himself into the story at some point too.

Here’s the thing – I HATE Vonnegut’s choppy, simplistic, weird-just-to-be-weird style of writing. Some of his messages or points in this book – that the U.S. is too materialistic and greedy, that as a nation we don’t really care about brotherhood or fairness, that we stole the land from Native Americans – are all things I totally agree with. But eventually reading this book got so tedious that I didn’t give a crap what he was saying anymore, I just wanted it to be over. What the fuck is the point of listing the exact penis measurements of all the characters midway through the book, hmmm? Would someone like to explain that to me? Because it’s crap like that that makes me roll my eyes and think that Vonnegut is just writing the stupidest shit possible just because he can. (Well, he can’t now, he died, but you know what I mean.) It’s like he literally thought to himself “I’ll write a story that’s super annoying and random and bland and I bet people will just buy that shit up.” And they did, apparently.

To be fair, Vonnegut apparently rated his own books on a grade scale and he only gave Breakfast of Champions a C. But then again, he gave Slaughterhouse-Five an A+ and I didn’t like that one either, so…

cat gif

Yeah, NO, thanks…

I’m now firmly in the “Vonnegut is super overrated” camp and my brain is mad at me for making me suffer through this just to confirm it.

Sarah Says: 1 star

* I would like to mention though that I still totally love The Universe Versus Alex Woods, even if the author is a Vonnegut fanboy.

Advertisements

21 comments

  1. I have this beef with modern American authors…they seem so so smart that I don’t get them at all. I didn’t mind Slaughter House 5 because of the WW2 but other writers like Don DeLillo, Philip Roth and so on…just don’t get the greatness.

    Like

    1. Agreed! I haven’t read Vonnegut, but I did read DeLillo and Roth. They just write random things that I bet they don’t even make sense to them. That’s why people praise their work, they don’t get it so they think it must be brilliant. I find them all overrated!

      Like

    2. I haven’t read Don DeLillo or Philip Roth yet, but I know what you mean. Except I don’t think it’s that they’re really smart so we don’t get them – I think it’s that their bad writing is picked up as “genius but you have to dig for the meaning” by professors and other people, so then we’re made to feel dumb if we don’t get it or like it. Did that make sense? I’m a little sleepy, I may be rambling.

      Like

  2. Intriguing! I haven’t read any Vonnegut book either, but I want to try. I don’t remember which one I had in my Classics Club list, but it was one of those two mentioned in your review. I’ve read a few reviews that are praising his work and just as you there are people who don’t like his books at all, and I am drawn to authors that can draw out such different opinions from readers.

    Like

  3. I have read zero Vonnegut and wanted to at least try it since lots of people rave about it. But after this review I’m even less inclined than before. Even just reading the synopsis of some of his books doesn’t even make sense. One interesting one by him is Mother Night so maybe that will be the one I try.

    Like

  4. I read Slaughter-House V and didn’t really like it either. Galapagos is the only other book I’ve read by him and I read it way back in high school. The only thing I remember about it, that I thought was funny and cool, is that he put asterisk marks by the names of characters that would die later in the book. For some reason, his deliberate undermining of that usual mode of suspense in a novel struck me as really clever.

    Like

    1. Actually, he kind of underminded the suspense in Breakfast of Champions too, now that you mention it. We know right from the get go that it’s about one character going into an insane violent frenzy after reading another character’s books, and from there the whole thing is a (rather uninteresting) flashback of the events leading up to that. But it made me kind of wonder what the point of the story was then, you know?

      Like

  5. I read Slaughterhouse 5 and didn’t get it. I didn’t get Breakfast of Champions either, and I love love love you for writing this review. However. The sneaky people at Amazon know my weaknesses! They offered me Cat’s Cradle super cheap and I bought it KNOWING I don’t even like Vonnegut!!! Ugh. Maybe third time’s a charm? Maybe?

    Like

    1. Ooooo, Amazon, those sneaks! Maybe Cat’s Cradle will be a good one? Maybe? I’m sure that in another few years I’ll talk myself into trying another one. I’m almost sure that I won’t end up liking whichever one I decide to try, but it’s just one of those things where I’m really trying to understand how this guy got so popular.

      Like

      1. You and me both! Did you ever see that awful Rodney Dangerfield movie where he goes back to college and hires Vonnegut to write a paper on a Vonnegut novel? It doesn’t get an A, and that cracked me up.

        Like

  6. YOU’RE BREAKING MY HEART, SARAH!

    To be honest, this was my first Vonnegut & it took a few tries. Once I got into though, I was SOLD.

    As for his ‘weird-just-to-be-weird’ style, that’s how I feel about Jasper Fforde. He’s another author that I just didn’t get, until one day when everything clicked into place.

    Like

    1. 😦 I’m sorry! But I will probably try him again, one day… far away.

      I started out kind of liking this one, and then I liked it less and less as I went on. I liked the randomly drawn pictures and him taking jabs at America here and there. But I think as it went on I frustrated by the lack of a story, really. I felt like I didn’t get anything for my time spent reading it because there was no real plot there, just a lot of messages and themes. Maybe there’s a better one you could suggest for next time I decide to take the plunge and try again?

      Like

Talk to me.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s