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I love Kurt Vonnegut (and here there is a picture of a big heart). However, I don't believe that this is one of his better stories. Of course, he admitted it was not one of his better stories. In addition, because the drawings make the book a little more enjoyable, not having them makes it a little less enjoyable. John Malkovich (and here there is a picture of a bald man) does an OK job. However, his voice comes across as a bit bored.I'm curious how I would've experienced the story with a different narrator (and here there is a picture of a big question mark).
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Breakfast of Champions was the first of Kurt Vonnegut's novels that I read upon its original publication. Like many others, I was introduced to KV via Slaughterhouse-5 and went back and read his entire back catalogue while awaiting his next title. 40 years later, whenever a KV audiobook comes up in a sale, I get it and re-read it in a format that should be, in theory, ideal for conveying his idiosyncratic voice.
My results have been mixed in a specific way -- books I didn't care for as in my younger days (Mother Night, Rosewater) are ones I loved listening to, timeless classics still relevant today, while those long ago dubbed classics (Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions) now come across as dated, juvenile, amateurish.
That I felt that way about BoC is no surprise -- KV himself gave it a C, the second lowest grade he gave his own novels. Listen: he was right. He tells you in the foreword (and he said it again over the years) that this is an exercise in dumping random ideas that were cluttering his brain. It sure reads that way. When he strays from his characters to pursue and purge these thoughts, he loses momentum from what could've been a good straightforward narrative, and he loses me. I'm all for metafiction, but his would've better as straight fiction.
I was hoping this version, with the great actor John Malkovich narrating, would make for a memorable audiobook experience. Malkovich should stick to acting. His deadpan delivery is all wrong -- he sounds like he is reading the lines for the first time. He takes long pauses in the middle of sentences and then runs on to new sentences without pause. I would normally blame myself for setting my expectations too high, but this performance by one of my favorite actors is technically and stylistically bad.
All that said, there are interesting angles for Vonnegut fans. Like Kilgore Trout, KV was dealing with newfound fame following the publication of S-5 and was not sure he wanted to keep writing, themes he explores. He was dealing concurrently with his son's schizophrenia (recounted in Eden Express), hence the primary themes madness, free will, perceptions of reality -- we didn't know about his when the book was published, but in hindsight, looking for this theme helped me get through the mediocrity of the overall work.
Be warned that there is potentially offensive language and subject matter. KV allows the racism of some of his characters to come through with frequent use of the N word, he informs the reader of the dimensions of every male characters' junk, and he also discusses female genitalia in detail.
On the other hand, KV has a genius for distilling things into simplistic language that really packs a punch -- he describes Vietnam as a war to save rice-fueled Asian robots from Communism by dropping things on them from the sky, and defoliants as chemicals used to destroy the trees the rice-fueled robots use to hide from the things dropped on them from the sky. (He doesn't call them Asian, he uses a slur that I will not repeat.)
61 of 66 people found this review helpful
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
I barely recall what I heard even though I just heard it, I simply could not get pulled into the world and found the book very uninteresting. Some of the language he used is peculiar, the dick measuring is juvenile, the drawings are amusing, the ending was interesting and the narrator is good. The rest is not note worthy.
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
an actor who reads in a monotone almost all the way . not much acting going on .