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Breakfast of Champions (Paperback)

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Kurt Vonnegut's seventh novel, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS (1973), begins like a primer on American history for children in which Columbus is a "white sea pirate," bent on ****** and pillage, who leaves a legacy of hypocrisy and power-grabbing that was eagerly embraced by the Founding Fathers and generations of greedy Americans to come. The rest of the novel is essentially a brilliant, loony riff on that opening. Vonnegut resurrects his perennial character Kilgore Trout, the science-fiction writer, and sends him to the Festival of the Arts in the Midwest. There Trout encounters a mad Pontiac dealer named Dwayne Hoover who persists in seeing Trout's books as the literal truth, convinced that all humans except himself are robots. Vonnegut takes this wild conceit to astonishing heights in an irreverent satire of the American way of life that touches on icons ranging from the national anthem ("balderdash") to maple syrup ("candy made from the blood of trees"). Illustrated with Vonnegut's own crude but apt drawings, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS is a savagely irreverent send-up of everything Americans hold dear, including violence and schlock, full of aphorisms that run the gamut from the benign ("It is harder to be unhappy when you are eating") to the profound and unforgettable ("We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane"). Widely considered to be one of Vonnegut's best novels, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS endures as a freewheeling American classic.

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