This is my second time reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. When I first read this book I appreciated the appreciated the dark sarcasm, humor and absurdism, but I never appreciated what they were doing. This is a book written by an author to himself as a deeply introspective work about his own creativity. A world created to make vulnerable the author himself, to insect life and use a work of fiction to explain itself. The characters are setup to collide, but for no real reason or purpose, like life itself. There was a quote from this book I read which made me wanted to read it again, where Kilgore Trout (a character who resembles Vonnegut) contemplates the seriousness of life with a bus driver:
“I can’t tell if you’re serious or not,’ said the driver.
I won’t know myself until I find out if life is serious or not,’ said Trout. ‘It’s dangerous, I know, and it can hurt a lot. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s serious, too.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
These words are potent, and can help one keep life in perspective.
Later in the novel the author inserts himself into the narrative directly inorder to be present for the novels climax. He tries to act like a conductor, summoning his musicians, bit is keenly away that he can setup the situations, but not change their will. While he has created his characters, they exert their own will on him. To some degree they are driven by their desires once they are created and the author cannot easily change that. This speaks to the act of creation in general. The creator has great power, but is also controlled by her creation.
I would NOT reccomend this book as your first Kurt Vonnegut book I recommend reading one or two other Vonnegut books first such as: Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, Mother Night or [Welcome to the Monkey House][wttmh].