What’s That Book? Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Hi Everyone! Today I’d like to welcome Austin Vitelli, today’s contributor to What’s That Book. Thank you, Austin!

I’d like to welcome Kathleen Le Dain as a contributor to What’s That Book.

Title: Breakfast of Champions         

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Genre: Science Fiction/Postmodernism

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What’s it about? The novel takes place in a fictional Ohio town and highlights two main characters: Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout. The latter is a recurring character in Vonnegut’s books—although Trout’s background and life details vary from book to book, he is always presented as an unsuccessful science fiction author. Hoover, a successful businessman in Midland City, Ohio, slowly spirals into insanity, angry at the world ever since his wife committed suicide and his son came out as homosexual.

One of the main concepts Vonnegut explores in the book is that humans are “biological machines,” arguing that bad ideas combined with chemical imbalances ultimately result in mental illness. For a book written in 1973, I was surprised how much it discussed mental health issues.

How did you hear about it? I bought it at The Book Barn in Connecticut several years ago. I highly recommend visiting if you’re in the area.

Have you read other books by this author? Yes, Slaughterhouse-Five is one of my favorite books of all time. I have also read Player Piano and Cat’s Cradle.

What did you like about the book? Vonnegut’s commitment to being simple and forward in his writing, all while interweaving themes such as free will and mental illness, makes his novels easy to consume. It might seem like almost nothing happens in this novel plot wise, and at times this seems to be on purpose. He is never afraid to break the fourth wall and any other sort of “literary rules” set out by society, even inserting himself as a character in this book. He doesn’t care for overly descriptive and cryptic explanations of characters or settings. He manages to say in one sentence what some authors need three pages to say.

Closing comments: This book isn’t for everyone. It’s strange, meta, vulgar, and full of drawings. But if you can look past the absurdity of what is happening, Vonnegut does a brilliant job of exploring important themes in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen another author do.

Contributor: Austin Vitelli is a Managing Editor at a medical publishing company in Pennsylvania. You can view his website at www.austinvitelli.com.


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35 thoughts on “What’s That Book? Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

    1. Hi Darlene – thanks for stopping by to read Austin’s review. I enjoyed it too as I have only read Slaughterhouse Five and don’t know much about Vonnegut’s other books. Hope you’re having a great day!

  1. I enjoyed this review. As a lifelong fan of Kurt Vonnegut, you did a great job, Austin. It might be my imagination, but there seem to be a lot of Vitelli’s around here.

  2. Thanks for putting this author and this book in front of me. I enjoyed reading Vonnegut in college and it’s been too long since I picked up one of his books.

    1. Hi Donna, thanks so much for reading Austin’s review and commenting. I’m not sure I would read Breakfast of Champions, though I did read Slaughterhouse Five and liked it very much. Hope you are doing well!

  3. Slaughterhouse Five was on reading lists when I was in college. I’ve heard of Breakfast of Champions but have not read it. Austin has be related to you, Barbara–same last name! Thanks to you both.

  4. We read this in High School, believe it or not. Not really my thing, but at least I knew what I was missing by not reading more. (Then I had to read Slaughterhouse Five in college..!)

    1. Ah, well I may not pick up Breakfast of Champions but I thought Slaughterhouse Five was excellent. Still, his style isn’t for everyone. Thanks for the visit!

  5. What a great job Austin did with this review! I am of course aware of Kurt Vonnegut but was never attracted to his writing sufficiently to read an entire book – I started Slaughterhouse FIve in college.

    1. Hi Noelle – thank you for stopping by to read Austin’s review! I’ve only read Slaughterhouse Five – I thought it was excellent, but I’m not sure this one is for everyone (me I think too), like Austin says in his review.

    1. Hi Ann – yes, I also had heard about it (for years!), but the only book by Vonnegut I’ve read is Slaughterhouse Five. Of course, I knew that Breakfast of Champions referred to Wheaties! Thanks for the visit!

    1. Hi Jeff – I haven’t read that, or this one either. In fact, I’ve only read Slaughterhouse Five which was one of the most excellent books I’ve read, ever. Thanks for stopping by to read Austin’s review!

  6. Just put this title on my reading list. It looks really good. Thanks for the suggestion.

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