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Breakfast of Champions

Narrated by: John Malkovich
Length: 6 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)
Non-member price: $29.22
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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, June 2015 - There's a line in Amy Poehler's Yes Please where she says that 'teenage bodies should be filled with Vonnegut and meatball subs.' That was me. I devoured Vonnegut's unique voice; his genre blending; his irreverence; and, most of all, his dark humor. All of these things are on full display in Breakfast of Champions – a book that, as the narrator deceptively points out at the start, is about the 'meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast,' but is actually so much more. John Malkovich's narration is a true masterstroke. The renowned actor's distinctive voice embodies the charm and menace implicit in Vonnegut's work, especially as the fourth wall crumbles and Vonnegut's omniscient narrator becomes a character in his own book. And so on. —Doug, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Best Male Narrator, 2016

Breakfast of Champions (1973) provides frantic, scattershot satire and a collage of Vonnegut's obsessions. His recurring cast of characters and American landscape was perhaps the most controversial of his canon; it was felt by many at the time to be a disappointing successor to Slaughterhouse-Five, which had made Vonnegut's literary reputation.

The core of the novel is Kilgore Trout, a familiar character very deliberately modeled on the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985), a fact that Vonnegut conceded frequently in interviews and that was based upon his own occasional relationship with Sturgeon. Here Kilgore Trout is an itinerant wandering from one science fiction convention to another; he intersects with the protagonist, Dwayne Hoover (one of Vonnegut's typically boosterish, lost, and stupid mid-American characters), and their intersection is the excuse for the evocation of many others, familiar and unfamiliar, dredged from Vonnegut's gallery. The central issue is concerned with intersecting and apposite views of reality, and much of the narrative is filtered through Trout, who is neither certifiably insane nor a visionary writer but can pass for either depending upon Dwayne Hoover's (and Vonnegut's) view of the situation.

America, when this novel was published, was in the throes of Nixon, Watergate, and the unraveling of our intervention in Vietnam; the nation was beginning to fragment ideologically and geographically, and Vonnegut sought to cram all of this dysfunction (and a goofy, desperate kind of hope, the irrational comfort given through the genre of science fiction) into a sprawling narrative whose sense, if any, is situational, not conceptual. Reviews were polarized; the novel was celebrated for its bizarre aspects and became the basis of a Bruce Willis movie adaptation whose reviews were not nearly so polarized. (Most critics hated it.)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©1973 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What members say

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awesome

awesome book. Malcovich is amazing. would thoroughly recommend. listened to it while exploring Amsterdam in a fog of narcotics

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Malkovich reads one of Vonneguts (almost) greats.

What made the experience of listening to Breakfast of Champions the most enjoyable?

I'd read this book many times myself, but its been years. As an older, and more disappointing person I appreciated its themes of nostalgia and lost opportunities far more, and the astounding reading of Malkovich ratcheted the experience up many notches.

Who was your favorite character and why?

You have to love Kilgore Trout - the pseudo-profound almost-was that is a very thinly veiled personification of Vonneguts own fearful self-projection.

What about John Malkovich’s performance did you like?

His voice, my god - there is a thoughtful, learned, refined edge to his voice that makes it one of the best voices in existence in my estimation.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The opening of the book, with it's dedication to a lost friend and lost cultural values is playful, deeply mournful, and has wonderful impact despite being very self deprecating.

Any additional comments?

If you appreciate Vonnegut (and no, this isnt Cats Cradle, or Slaughterhouse 5, his masterpieces) and love the voice of Malkovich, this audiobook will push all your buttons. Vonneguts often unadorned prose doesnt always lend itself to reading aloud, but Malkovich rings every last drop from this one with his inflection and style.

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  • Tom
  • 13-12-2015

Hella monotone.

Could stand listening to John Malkovichs voice for more than 5 minutes at a time.

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best vonnegut in my opinion

funny, beautiful and inspiring. . . . . . . . . . . . . ect !

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This is the breakfast of champions

Breakfast of Champions is by no means an easy book. It tumbled and meanders, always with one eye loosely tracking the central narrative while the others takes in the voluminous world that Kurt Vonnegut has created.
As a commentary on the failures of modern American capitalism - or capitalism and selfish individualism the world over - the novel challenges the reader to reconsider the price of the world we have created. How much of our planet will remain in years to come? How much of our soul can survive the onslaught of meaninglessness, the constant uncertainty of our place in and of this life?
Vonnegut is always a surprise. His novels are never what I expect and yet they still floor me with expertly crafted imagery and seemingly trite remarks that cut to the very core of what human existence is like.
This is a novel worth anyone's time. It is expertly read by John Malkovich with the kind of indifferent murmuring that it is easy to imagine Vonnegut himself adopting for the bleak truisms that his characters endure. Malkovich is enchanting with his croaking delivery, his voice echoing the uncertainty that Vonnegut's words encourage in mind of his reader.
This is a beautiful and tragic novel - equal parts humorous, shocking, and revealing.
Absolutely worth your time.

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    3 out of 5 stars

malkovich is an actor

an actor who reads in a monotone almost all the way . not much acting going on .
shame

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kaggy
  • 28-06-2018

A unique and biting wit

What can I say? This is after all by one of the most fascinating and daring novelists ever to have produced a book. Although written in the 70s, his faux innocent descriptions of America remain relevant today and his humour is as fresh and startling as any contemporary comedian. John Malkovitch’s dry and steady voice makes him the perfect narrator for Vonnegut and I loved to picture his face while he read some of the more outrageous passages. This was a real treat and I will be ploughing through the Vonnegut catalogue on Audible with real relish.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Lulubeth
  • 08-10-2017

Still pointed

Vonnegut revived by Malkovich's performance/reading in this audio recording. The sexism - not the worst of its times - is a little wearing but the book does stand up still, shifting wickedly between worlds, perspectives and outrageous calling-of-bluff regarding the usual conventions of fiction. I loved it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 15-01-2019

Best reading I've heard

The performance by John Malkovich is by far the best I've heard so far. The book is fun and odd, although it hasn't aged very well (comes off as racist or misogynistic at times), but the writing is brilliant. It contains drawings, which Malkovich narrates nicely (I didn't miss seeing them). Overall: would definitely recommend!

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  • Culwen
  • 04-01-2019

Enter another wondrous world

It seems that with these series of books with Kilgor Trout, the imagination and style of writing is quite abstract and lyrical. I did enjoy the tiny idiosyncrasies of even the mundane things that reinforce the plot a “inch” at a time. It is probably a story you would need to listen to again to fully grasp what the hell is going on. It’s unique and refreshing.

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  • Cebe Seren
  • 18-11-2018

Great story and performance but...

...this book just doesn’t work as well as an audio book. I’m glad I listened to it, but wish I’d read it instead! Too many lovely points to linger on which you can’t in audio.

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  • Richard
  • 10-10-2018

Malcovich was a strong choice

this is a really very clever and entertaining book, delivered spectacularly.

i thoroughly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-10-2018

perfect narrator

The book received a five star review. And here is a drawing of five stars.

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  • Blondie
  • 06-10-2018

A great ride!

Don't expect a conventional narrative or narrator but the language and ideas are a delight, exciting, funny and original. I loved John Malkovic's performance, it suited the book perfectly, although I missed out seeing the drawings.

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  • Peter Kettle
  • 20-09-2017

A perfect marriage of author and narrator

What made the experience of listening to Breakfast of Champions the most enjoyable?

Two iconoclastic talents unite - John Malkovitch is bewitchingly right to read this great writer's most curmudgeonly book. I want this pairing to be used again.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Breakfast of Champions?

It is invidious to pick out a section because all of it is pitch perfect. However, just try the opening dedication if you want to see if this is for you.

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  • Ronan
  • 12-06-2017

fantastic voice acting

excellent book, brilliantly read. I love Vonnegut's sad, funny, intelligent observations about the absurd human race.