- Breakfast of Champions
infobox Book |
name = Breakfast of Champions
image_caption = Cover of first edition (hardcover)
language = English
release_date = 1973
media_type = Print (
isbn = ISBN 0-385-28089-0
"Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday" is a
1973novel by the American author Kurt Vonnegut. Set in the fictional town of Midland City, it is the story of "two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast." One of these men, Dwayne Hoover, is a normal-looking but deeply deranged Pontiacdealer who becomes obsessed with the writings of the other man, Kilgore Trout, taking them for literal truth. Trout, a largely unknown pulp science fictionwriter who has appeared in several other Vonnegut novels, looks like a crazy old man but is in fact relatively sane. As the novel opens, Trout journeys toward Midland City to appear at a convention where he is destined to meet Dwayne Hoover and unwittingly inspire him to run amok. Vonnegut sprinkled plot descriptions for Trout's stories throughout the novel. He also filled the book with some of his own simple felt-tip pen drawings, intending to illustrate various aspects of life on Earth. These drawings include renderings of an anus, an American flag, the date 1492, a vagina, little girls' underpants, guns, trucks, cows and the hamburgers that are made from them, chickens and the Kentucky Fried Chickenthat is made from them, an electric chair, and the sunglasses the author himself wears as he enters the storyline.
In addition to Kilgore Trout, several more characters from other Vonnegut books appear here, such as
Eliot Rosewaterand Rabo Karabekian. Rosewater was the main character in " God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" ( 1965) and a minor character in " Slaughterhouse-Five" ( 1969), while Karabekian later became the main character in "Bluebeard" ( 1988). Hoover's secretary, Francine Pefko, previously appeared in " Cat's Cradle" ( 1963), where she performed secretarial duties at General Forge and Foundry, in Ilium, New York. Vonnegut reuses the name Khashdrahr Miasma for a minor character, in reference to a character in " Player Piano". The vicious guard dog, Kazak, was Winston Niles Rumfoord's pet in " The Sirens of Titan" ( 1959) and Selena MacIntosh's guide dog in "Galápagos" ( 1985). Many of Midland City's inhabitants reappear in " Deadeye Dick" ( 1982), which locates the city in Ohio.
The title, taken from the well-known
sloganfor Wheatiesbreakfast cereal, crops up in a key scene late in the novel when a waitress, apparently ironically, says "Breakfast of Champions" each time she serves a customer a martini. Vonnegut, in his typical sarcastic manner, mocks the legal and copyright systems as he notes meticulously that "Breakfast of Champions" is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc. for its breakfast cereal products, and that his use of the term is not "intended to disparage their fine products." He uses a strange name for a character, Philboyd Studge, which he borrowed from a short storyby Edwardian satirist Saki. ("", describes the success of the eponymous breakfast cerealthrough bizarrely counter-intuitive advertising.)
The novel also describes a fictional
extinctgiant sea eagle called the Bermuda Ern. This allegorical species was later described in Vonnegut's Book " Timequake" as a pelagic raptor, a "great blue bird" the looming extinction of whose population was being caused by its female members "kicking the eggs from the nest" prior to their hatching, rather than kicking the young fledgelings from the nest at the appropriate time.
The early chapters of the book introduce the two main characters: Kilgore Trout, a struggling
science fictionwriter, and Dwayne Hoover, an increasingly insane, but "fabulously well-to-do" car dealer. Kilgore receives an invitation to speak at a convention in Midland City, Dwayne's home town.
Dwayne meanwhile is slowly going mad. He hallucinates, and his "bad chemicals" make him do many strange things. He insults his employees, making one of them think that Dwayne knows he is a secret transvestite. Many minor characters are introduced, most of whom have hidden links to other characters. Kilgore hitchhikes his way across the country and ends up in the bar at the same hotel as both the author and Dwayne.
The author points out the spiritual climax of the book: a snobbish painter explains his greatest work to the silent bar. The painting is of a single bright orange band on a huge green canvas. He explains that at the core of everything that is can be found a shining bright line. A mother and her son, a father and his daughter, or two lovers: nothing but two shining, unwavering bands of light.
The author speaks of various fates that will befall the characters within the world he has created. Dwayne finally meets Kilgore and his "bad chemicals" trigger a rampage. He attacks many people at the bar and bites the end off Kilgore's finger. They are all taken away in a large emergency vehicle.
After Kilgore is released from the hospital he is confronted by the author of the novel and has a few last things explained to him. The author tells Kilgore that he can send him anywhere in his past or future. The author then transports himself back to his own dimension as Kilgore's shouts fade out: "Make me young!... Make me young!..."
* ISBN 0-224-00888-9 (1973)
* ISBN 1-56267-113-8 (
* ISBN 0-385-33420-6 (paperback,
* ISBN 0-7953-0240-1 (
* ISBN 0-7953-0242-8 (e-book)
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