Cover image for Breakfast of champions, or, Goodbye blue Monday
Title:
Breakfast of champions, or, Goodbye blue Monday
Author:
Vonnegut, Kurt.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Unabridged.
Publication Information:
[Place of publication not identified] : HarperCollins Publishers, [2003, c1973]

℗2003, ©1973
Physical Description:
6 audio discs (6.5 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Summary:
Aging science fiction writer Kilgor Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth.
General Note:
Includes an interview with the author.

Compact disc, digital recording.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780060586232
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Summary

Breakfast of Champions is vintage Vonnegut. One of his favorite characters, aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. The result is murderously funny satire as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.


Author Notes

The appeal of Kurt Vonnegut, especially to bright younger readers of the past few decades, may be attributed partly to the fact that he is one of the few writers who have successfully straddled the imaginary line between science-fiction/fantasy and "real literature." He was born in Indianapolis and attended Cornell University, but his college education was interrupted by World War II. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned in Dresden, he received a Purple Heart for what he calls a "ludicrously negligible wound." After the war he returned to Cornell and then earned his M.A. at the University of Chicago.He worked as a police reporter and in public relations before placing several short stories in the popular magazines and beginning his career as a novelist.

His first novel, Player Piano (1952), is a highly credible account of a future mechanistic society in which people count for little and machines for much. The Sirens of Titan (1959), is the story of a playboy whisked off to Mars and outer space in order to learn some humbling lessons about Earth's modest function in the total scheme of things. Mother Night (1962) satirizes the Nazi mentality in its narrative about an American writer who broadcasts propaganda in Germany during the war as an Allied agent. Cat's Cradle (1963) makes use of some of Vonnegut's experiences in General Electric laboratories in its story about the discovery of a special kind of ice that destroys the world. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) satirizes a benevolent foundation set up to foster the salvation of the world through love, an endeavor with, of course, disastrous results. Slaughterhouse-Five; or The Children's Crusade (1969) is the book that marked a turning point in Vonnegut's career. Based on his experiences in Dresden, it is the story of another Vonnegut surrogate named Billy Pilgrim who travels back and forth in time and becomes a kind of modern-day Everyman. The novel was something of a cult book during the Vietnam era for its antiwar sentiments. Breakfast of Champions (1973), the story of a Pontiac dealer who goes crazy after reading a science fiction novel by "Kilgore Trout," received generally unfavorable reviews but was a commercial success. Slapstick (1976), dedicated to the memory of Laurel and Hardy, is the somewhat wacky memoir of a 100-year-old ex-president who thinks he can solve society's problems by giving everyone a new middle name. In addition to his fiction, Vonnegut has published nonfiction on social problems and other topics, some of which is collected in Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (1974).

He died from head injuries sustained in a fall on April 11, 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography) Kurt Vonnegut is among the few grandmasters of 20th century American letters. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 11, 1922. Vonnegut lives in New York City.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

First published in 1973, Breakfast of Champions traces the cross-country journey of the long-suffering sf writer Kilgore Trout, who, to his amazement, is invited to attend an arts festival in a gritty Midwestern town. As Kilgore's picaresque adventure unfolds, Vonnegut drops in barbs on such contemporary American maladies as war, consumerism, racism, and pollution. Written when the author was experimenting with the novel form, this is the kind of book that listeners will either love or hate. It is composed in the simplest prose imaginable, and the original print edition was laced with Vonnegut's own crude line drawings. Those illustrations are naturally missing from this audio edition, but their absence is more than compensated for by actor Stanley Tucci's excellent narration. He reads in a relaxed and detached manner well suited to its content, sounding remarkably like a younger Vonnegut. Recommended for libraries with established devotees.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Dwayne was a widower. He lived alone at night in a dream house in Fairchild Heights, which was the most desirable residential area in the city. Every house there cost at least one hundred thousand dollars to build. Every house was on at least four acres of land. Dwayne's only companion at night was a Labrador retriever named Sparky. Sparky could not wag his tail--because of an automobile accident many years ago, so he had no way of telling other dogs how friendly he was. He had to fight all the time. His ears were in tatters. He was lumpy with scars. Dwayne had a black servant named Lottie Davis. She cleaned his house every day. Then she cooked his supper for him and served it. Then she went home. She was descended from slaves. Lottie Davis and Dwayne didn't talk much, even though they liked each other a lot. Dwayne reserved most of his conversation for the dog. He would get down on the floor and roll around with Sparky, and he would say things like, "You and me, Spark," and "How's my old buddy?" and so on. And that routine went on unrevised, even after Dwayne started to go crazy, so Lottie had nothing unusual to notice. Kilgore Trout owned a parakeet named Bill. Like Dwayne Hoover, Trout was all alone at night, except for his pet. Trout, too, talked to his pet. But while Dwayne babbled to his Labrador retriever about love, Trout sneered and muttered to his parakeet about the end of the world. "Any time now," he would say. "And high time, too." It was Trout's theory that the atmosphere would become unbreathable soon. Trout supposed that when the atmosphere became poisonous, Bill would keel over a few minutes before Trout did. He would kid Bill about that. "How's the old respiration, Bill?" he'd say, or, "Seems like you've got a touch of the old emphysema, Bill," or, "We never discussed what kind of a funeral you want, Bill. You never even told me what your religion is." And so on. He told Bill that humanity deserved to die horribly, since it had behaved so cruelly and wastefully on a planet so sweet. "We're all Heliogabalus, Bill," he would say. This was the name of a Roman emperor who had a sculptor make a hollow, life-size iron bull with a door on it. The door could be locked from the outside. The bull's mouth was open. That was the only other opening to the outside. Heliogabalus would have a human being put into the bull through the door, and the door would be locked. Any sounds the human being made in there would come out of the mouth of the bull. Heliogabalus would have guests in for a nice party, with plenty of food and wine and beautiful women and pretty boys--and Heliogabalus would have a servant light kindling. The kindling was under dry firewood--which was under the bull. Trout did another thing which some people might have considered eccentric: he called mirrors leaks. It amused him to pretend that mirrors were holes between two universes. If he saw a child near a mirror, he might wag his finger at a child warningly, and say with great solemnity, "Don't get too near that leak. You wouldn't want to wind up in the other universe, would you?" Sometimes somebody would say in his presence, "Excuse me, I have to take a leak." This was a way of saying that the speaker intended to drain liquid wastes from his body through a valve in his lower abdomen. And Trout would reply waggishly, "Where I come from, that means you're about to steal a mirror." And so on. By the time of Trout's death, of course, everybody called mirrors leaks. That was how respectable even his jokes had become. In 1972, Trout lived in a basement apartment in Cohoes, New York. He made his living as an installer of aluminum combination storm windows and screens. He had nothing to do with the sales end of the business--because he had no charm. Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind. Dwayne Hoover had oodles of charm. I can have oodles of charm when I want to. A lot of people have oodles of charm. Trout's employer and co-workers had no idea that he was a writer. No reputable publisher had ever heard of him, for that matter, even though he had written one hundred and seventeen novels and two thousand short stories by the time he met Dwayne. He made carbon copies of nothing he wrote. He mailed off manuscripts without enclosing stamped, self-addressed envelopes for their safe return. Sometimes he didn't even include a return address. He got names and addresses of publishers from magazines devoted to the writing business, which he read avidly in the periodical rooms of public libraries. He thus got in touch with a firm called World Classics Library, which published hard-core pornography in Los Angeles, California. They used his stories, which usually didn't even have women in them, to give bulk to books and magazines of salacious pictures. They never told him where or when he might expect to find himself in print. Here is what they paid him: doodleysquat. They didn't even send him complimentary copies of the books and magazines in which he appeared, so he had to search them out in pornography stores. And the titles he gave to his stories were often changed. "Pan Galactic Straw-boss," for instance, became "Mouth Crazy." Most distracting to Trout, however, were the illustrations his publishers selected, which had nothing to do with his tales. He wrote a novel, for instance, about an Earthling named Delmore Skag, a bachelor in a neighborhood where everybody else had enormous families. And Skag was a scientist, and he found a way to reproduce himself in chicken soup. He would shave living cells from the palm of his right hand, mix them with the soup, and expose the soup to cosmic rays. The cells turned into babies which looked exactly like Delmore Skag. Pretty soon, Delmore was having several babies a day, and inviting his neighbors to share his pride and happiness. He had mass baptisms of as many as a hundred babies at a time. He became famous as a family man. And so on. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.