Breakfast of Champions was the first book by Kurt Vonnegut that I read, and I was hooked. It takes a while to get used to his writing style, especially since he starts off very light while jumping around in the different characters' lives. I like Vonnegut's unconventional writing, but sometimes I feel his message may get lost in what is purely honest writing.
If you look past Vonnegut's social introductory commentary in BOF you will find meaningful stories about the type of people that are so often ignored, and he teaches you not only compassion for their lifestyles & thoughts, but also gives you a new perspective and comedy.
Specifically, there is a moment in the book where Vonnegut has his characters talk about an abstract painting. Being an artist who has often disliked abstract art I found the dialogue life changing because the artist in the book taught me as a reader to see something more.
"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane." So reads the tombstone of downtrodden writer Kilgore Trout, but we have no doubt who's really talking: his alter ego Kurt Vonnegut. Health versus sickness, humanity versus inhumanity--both sets of ideas bounce through this challenging and funny book. As with the rest of Vonnegut's pure fantasy, it lacks the shimmering, fact-fueled rage that illuminates Slaughterhouse-Five. At the same time, that makes this book perhaps more enjoyable to read.
Breakfast of Champions is a slippery, lucid, bleakly humorous jaunt through (sick? inhumane?) America circa 1973, with Vonnegut acting as our Virgil-like companion. The book follows its main character, auto-dealing solid-citizen Dwayne Hoover, down into madness, a condition brought on by the work of the aforementioned Kilgore Trout. As Dwayne cracks, then crumbles, Breakfast of Champions coolly shows the effects his dementia has on the web of characters surrounding him. It's not much of a plot, but it's enough for Vonnegut to air unique opinions on America, sex, war, love, and all of his other pet topics--you know, the only ones that really count.
I had a really hard time reading this, and ultimately didn't finish it.