Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions  By Kurt Vonnegut
Wikipedia Entry for Breakfast of Champions
A.V. Club's post 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Has or Will

I'm not really sure just how I managed to begin reading Vonnegut so late in life and why I haven't already devoured his entire oeuvre. I love him. He's funny and smart and strange and tragic all at once.  How could you not love that?  And, he includes his drawings in his work, which I love. They are simplistic enough that you feel like you could totally replicate this idea, if you were to try.  But, at that same time you can tell that most of them require a little bit of skill.  If you've seen any of my drawings, and I do include them in blog posts, you will notice that I have absolutely no skill. I just don't let that stop me.

Kilgore Trout writes science fiction books, that, for some reason, get published along with pornography and sold in adult book stores. He's got a following, but he's not anyone's idea of a famous writer. Or, at least what a famous writer should be like.  Even he is surprised when he gets a letter requesting his presence as a speaker at an arts festival in Midland City.  While Trout slowly makes his way to Midland City, after traveling to New York City to get copies of his work from porn shops there, he suffers many indignities, yet keeps working his way to the festival. 

At the same time, Dwayne Hoover, an entrepreneur who owns a good chunk of the town, has taken Trout as some kind of prophet, as opposed to a writer of science fiction stories.  Hoover's inability to differentiate between reality and the fiction of Kilgore Trout is one symptom in his steep decline into insanity. As Trout struggles his way from the east coast to middle America, Dwayne Hoover descends into madness, troubling all of the people who know him and/or love him and even a view who want to know him. The chaos that ensues is striking and violent and comical.

 You know you are dealing with true craziness, when the book's author has to step into the narrative and directly affect the proceedings, including letting characters know that they are, in fact, fictional. I don't know if the fourth wall applies to literature, but the only way I can describe it is as a literary piercing of the fourth wall. 

I think we should all strive to be Kurt Vonnegut when we grow up.  What more could you hope for?  And, since I like to include videos, here's one on Vonnegut and the shapes of stories:

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