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…
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.