Breakfast of Champions is the story of Dwayne Hoover, a car dealer obsessed with the writings of a science fiction author named Kilgore Trout. Hoover has requested that Trout be invited to speak at his town’s art festival. As Trout travels to the city, Hoover undergoes some sort of mental breakdown.
The story is definitely odd, and it’s sprinkled with lots of Vonnegut’s artwork. Unfortunately, the story kind of lost me. Not that I couldn’t figure out what was going on in the plot, but rather that I wasn’t entirely sure of its point. It was definitely funny at times and insightful once or twice, but mainly it just left me wondering if I was missing something. Vonnegut has done that to me before, but usually there’s some other nugget of humor or insight that I can take out of his work. This one was a little tougher to grasp.
So, for Vonnegut, not his best work. For a book in general, it’s not bad, especially if you like humor and goofy illustrations. It’s definitely a quick read. I think I finished in 3 days. If you haven’t checked out some of his other stuff that I’ve reviewed, you may want to start there. According to his Wikipedia entry, in his book Palm Sunday he grades his performance on each of his novels. He gave Breakfast of Champions a “C”. I really enjoyed the work that he graded highly, so maybe I should listen to his reviews and pick up God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Mother Night the next time I’m in a Vonnegut mood.