Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of Champions is a strange one, but I think that’s what makes it so special.

It’s about two very different constructs, Kilgore Trout and me, Dwayne Hoover. Trout’s a word processor, a science fiction guy, and I’m this business man who’s slowly losing my grip on reality. We’re from different worlds, but somehow our paths cross in this small Midwestern town.

As the story goes on, we learn more about our lives (Trout’s and mine), and the events that bring us together. Trout’s in town for a convention, and I’m just trying to hold it together. But then we meet, and everything changes.

“I couldn’t help wondering if that was what God put me on Earth for – to find out how much a man could take without breaking.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

I’m fixated with the notion that everyone around me is a machine. And when I see Trout, I think he’s the one who can give me answers. But he doesn’t, and things just start to unravel. I become a broken machine and start hurting people; a chat with Kilgore and a harmless martini is all it takes to fry my unstable wiring.

“So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Vonnegut himself is a machine for putting holes into the minds of humans. He’s pushing out black humour to explore themes like the role of the artist in society, mental illness, and racism. It’s heavy stuff, but it’s done in a way that’s almost playful. And these hand-drawn illustrations and doodles that he’s programmed to produce, just add to the weirdness.

Kurt’s asshole

The chance encounter between Trout and me is like a metaphor for life, you know? Like, anything can happen at any time, and it can change everything. It’s like we’re all just stumbling around in the dark, trying to make sense of our programming.

Breakfast of Champions is a story that’ll mess with your head. But in a good way. It’ll make you think, and it’ll make you laugh. And it’ll make you realise that we all need a little de-bugging from time to time.

Why ‘Breakfast of Champions’? Follow this sub-routine to find out.


2 1/2 oz gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

Olive or lemon twist for garnish

Operating procedure

Fill a shaker with ice.

Pour the gin and dry vermouth into the shaker.

Stir until the mixture is well-chilled.

Strain the martini into a chilled glass.

Garnish with either a green olive or a lemon twist.

In “Breakfast of Champions,” I add a twist to my martini by putting a small dash of rose water in it (of course I do). If you want to try it out, add just a drop or two of rose water to the shaker along with the gin and dry vermouth, and stir until well-chilled. Strain the mixture into a chilled glass and garnish as desired.

“The waitress brought me another drink. She wanted to light my hurricane lamp again. I wouldn’t let her.
“Can you see anything in the dark, with your sunglasses on?” she asked me.
“The big show is inside my head,” I said.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

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