Friday, April 13, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

When i was a high-school kid i picked up the book Breakfast of Champions in our high-school library. I retrospect, i know that if any of the librarians had ever read the book, it would not have been on the shelf (this is a community where an editorial in the local newspaper referred to Grapes of Wrath as 'smut'). For me the book was nothing short of a revelation. The most controversial thing i had read before that was maybe Catcher in the Rye, and so BoC broke convention in every way imaginable. It was funny and fantastic and sexual and by the standards of my previous experience, very strange. I loved it. I sort of felt that it was my own personal secret. I had originally chosen it as a novel on which to write a report, but i decided to do another book because i wanted to keep BoC to myself.

I never became a rabid fan of Vonnegut the writer, though i admired Vonnegut the human being. He was a fellow Hoosier and a fellow chemist and i thought his outspoken humanism was brave in a world where celebrity opinion is inevitably condemned as either vapid or elitist. Mostly, i admire how he took the difficult experiences in his life and transformed them into something amazing and enduring.

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