Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Finishing Breakfast

What a compelling, yet clinical, ride.

After Dwayne's rampage the final event of Breakfast of Champions is, weirdly, Vonnegut's meeting Trout. they converse, Vonnegut departs, and is left feeling a sort of sadness. Maybe because meeting his creation has changed something in him, or because he makes a point of mentioning that he is now fifty years old and Trout's final, fading request is "Make me young, make me young, make me young!" (188).

It's an odd detail that ranks up there with the constant noting of penis and hip-waist-bust measurements.

The author's meeting his main character is definitely pure quirk, but the anatomical statistics that Vonnegut notes definitely give the book its clinical tone. Yet, despite that tone it's still fairly incisive.

Vonnegut does come out against contemporary society on some fronts that definitely seem damning (people giving companies names simply because they 'like the sound of [the word used for the name],' and Kilgore's noting that people's conversation is mostly quoted lines from television shows).

And I think that's the main thing to take away from Breakfast of Champions. Characters that appear in other works (like Trout and Rosewater) are empathetic, but for the most the book is about Vonnegut toying with the very idea that makes Dwayne snap: Everyone else is just a pre-programmed machine.

It's definitely possible to feel for Vonnegut's characters. But not with anywhere near as much investment as that which is placed on most characters from more recent fiction. It seems that no one's really writing in the same clinical vein these days, and I can't decide if that means we're all working empathy machines or broken critique machines. Or both.

Whatever the case, Breakfast of Champions is definitely a book worth imbibing (and definitely one that goes down quickly, though its effect is lasting).

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