Breakfast of Champions Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions is perhaps one of the most famous novels written by Kurt Vonnegut. Published in 1973, the story is a loose collection of much of Vonnegut’s personal style, including his drawings, characters from other works, and long passages on American history, all tied together with the story of Dwayne Hoover, a Pontiac dealer in Midland City who is obsessed with the writing of Kilgore Trout.
The plot involves Kilgore Trout, a pulp science fiction writer, traveling to Midland City in order to deliver a speech. Hoover, who is mentally unstable, mistakes Trout’s fiction for literal truth. Upon meeting, Trout hands Hooper his latest novel, which Hooper interprets to mean that he is the only person with free will in the entire universe. Dwayne Hoover then goes on a rampage, beating several people before being taken into custody. After this arrest, the narrator of the novel approaches Kilgore Trout and tells him that he can have free will.
Vonnegut took the title from the popular slogan of Wheaties breakfast cereal. At one point in the novel, a waitress ironically says “breakfast of champions” each time she serves a martini. In the novel, Vonnegut notes that the phrase is a trademark of General Mills, mocking the copyright system. In 1974, writer Philip Jose Farmer published his novel Venus on the Half-Shell under the pen name “Kilgore Trout.” Vonnegut reportedly was not amused.