Breakfast of Champions is Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliantly imagined and crafted dystopic tale set on a futuristic alternate Earth devastated by humans. The author interweaves fact and fiction in his storylines, intentionally describing real-life impactful events in human history to encourage the reader to consider the marks humans leave on others and their surroundings. The format of Vonnegut’s metafictive novel, which communicates a variety of concepts through prose, drawings, and phrases, adds to its eccentricity and presence, and strategically builds on his ideas and messages as the story progresses. Vonnegut entertains his reader and inspires his or her analysis of the text and its themes with the flow and ease of a skilled storyteller and teacher, all the while, keeping the story fast-paced and fun.
The novel’s themes, settings, historical contexts, and character traits and actions warn the reader about the future, simultaneously eliciting powerful intellectual and emotional responses. From the first line of the text, when the reader learns Earth is “a planet dying fast, ” the reader is encouraged to consider what this means- both in the story and in reality. The plights and experiences of main characters, Kilgore Trout, a science fiction writer, and Dwayne Hoover, a Pontiac dealer, at first seem distant. But, slowly and methodically, as the storyline merges fact and fiction, they become more relatable. As Vonnegut’s storyline overlaps with events in the life of the reader, his or her desire to dissect and understand the story; feel empathy for Trout and Hoover, and learn from their experiences drastically expands. The reader’s awareness is heightened as he or she notes significant parallels such as, world wars, pollution, mining, slavery, racism, poverty, finding meaning with each new comparison.
By stepping back and turning the present into a dystopic and foreign future, Vonnegut makes his warnings and comments more accessible. The reader sees that people are often too desensitized by negative behaviors and events to remember to think about the consequences. The author’s perspective and his dynamic voice bring the story together, making its delivery and finally its messages relevant.
Packed full of stimulating content from start to finish, the text leaves the reader satisfied and longing for more long after turning the last page. The combination of Vonnegut’s special style and forceful, yet fun sci-fiction, combine to make this novel another of his classics. You won’t soon regret or forget reading Breakfast of Champions.