Breakfast of Champions

breakfast-of-championsTitle: Breakfast of Champions

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Summary: In a frolic of cartoon and comic outbursts against rule and reason, a miraculous weaving of science fiction, memoir, parable, fairy tale and farce, Kurt Vonnegut attacks the whole spectrum of American society, releasing some of his best-loved literary creations on the scene.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5

Review: This book is… i’m not sure ‘weird’ covers it, to be honest. But it’s not just weird. It’s funny and insightful and astute and 100% on point. This book is brilliant.

If you can look past the strangeness–the odd, round the houses tale of the two main characters and the chain of events that lead them to meeting… the multiple random asides that go on for several pages that are then referenced several chapters later… the interweaving details and history of the characters, the characters’ family, and things that happened to them many years ago… the author-insertion into his own book… If you can look past all that, or, perhaps more accurately, look deeper into that, Vonnegut is making some relevant, sharp and witty comments on life.

My personal favourite was when he started giving the length and girth of the penis of every male character he introduces, and the bust/waist/hip measurements of every female. Oh, and the average number of orgasms each character has in a month. Because this is the real information people care about, right? How big your dick is and how much sex you have. Of course, this information allows you to draw zero conclusions about these characters. Another example of the same thing would be the way he introduces characters by telling you whether they are black or white–because far too many people think this is relevant when it isn’t–it adds nothing to the characters…

…Except of course when Vonnegut has a point to make about racist and class divides, then things become very relevant. And Vonnegut has a lot to say–a lot of points to make–about a lot of things. By framing them slightly off, by showing them from a slightly odd character’s point of view, he points out the slightly odd things about society, about humans, about life. Those points could be missed if all you’re thinking about is how weird the story is. In a way, the story itself is lost without the astute details Vonnegut is slipping in.

I think this is the kind of book you either get, or you don’t. And while i’m sure there was plenty of things i missed (and do believe a re-read would be in the book’s favour), there was so much i loved and took away with me from this book. So many smiles and laughs and wry nods of the head.

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: A memoir (okay, maybe not exactly, but the blurb does say: ‘a miraculous weaving of science fiction, memoir, parable, fairy tale and farce’ so i’m totally having it).

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About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

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