When I received a letter from my muse, I was in big-idea-war with the author Charles L. Shields who un-friended me on facebook. Charles wrote ‘And So It Goes’ the biography of Kurt Vonnegut, my only hero. Charle’s friend, Boris Kachka, wrote an article for the New York Magazine about my ex-wife who was married to the author Thomas Pynchon. Mary Ann Tharaldsen was the sister-in-law of Christine Rosamond Benton, whose muse was my muse. To realize my muse, Rena Easton, became jealous of me moments after she first lay eyes on me, and may have helped Christine become a world famous artist in my place, is right out of a Vonnegut novel. If Kurt was alive he would be reading this blog.
Here is a article that Boris wrote about Oscar bloggers:
Not able to contain myself after Rena challenged me to treat “Red-necks” like human beings, I put Antonin Artaud and Vincent Van Gough on a noon train to Bozeman where they are going to attend a Arts Festival at the Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture. This is right out of ‘Breakfast of Champions’ one of my favorite books because it comes close to describing my late sister’s success which high water mark came with the revelation I and my mommy oppressed the budding career of ‘The Rose of the World’ after catching her drawing in a closet when she was four years old. The famous producer, Ronald Schwary, purchased an option to produce a lousy biography of Rosamond that will be hawked at the Emerson Center.
The Spirit of Kurt begs me to pick up the long stilled pen of Kilgore Trout, and reveal the truth that Elias Rosewater is the only proven member of the Priory de Sion, thanks to Robert Grave’s ‘The White Goddess’.
One of the characters in Breakfast of Champions is a gay piano player named ‘Bunny’. Could this be my kindred, Bunny Breckenridge?
Yesterday they apprehended an escaped rapist from Bozeman Montana here in Eugene. This rapist will once again escape and head back to Bozeman so he can attend the Art & Culture Festival. Briggs is a film buff.
It is rumored that Thomas Pynchon might attend the festival, in disguise. After all, he is in Mr. Rosewater’s family tree.
President: Rosewater Foundation
Kilgore Trout is a widely published, but otherwise unsung and virtually invisible writer who, by a fluke, is invited to deliver a keynote address at a local arts festival in distant Midland City. Dwayne Hoover is a wealthy businessman who owns much of Midland City, but is mentally unstable and is undergoing a gradual mental collapse. Kilgore arrives in Midland City and, by happenstance, piques the interest of Dwayne. A confused Dwayne demands a message from Kilgore, who hands over a copy of his novel. Dwayne reads the novel, which purports to be a message from the Creator of the Universe explaining that the reader – in this case Dwayne – is the only individual in the universe with free will. Everyone else is a robot. Dwayne believes the novel to be factual and immediately goes on a violent rampage, severely beating his son, his lover, and nine other people before being taken into custody. While Kilgore is walking the streets of Midland after Dwayne’s rampage the narrator of the book approaches Kilgore. The narrator tells Kilgore of his existence, and lets Kilgore be free and under his own will.
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or, Pearls Before Swine, the first of Vonnegut’s novels to feature the character of Eliot Rosewater, is also the one in which he is the most prominent.
The novel follows much of his life as the liberal son of a rich, conservative Senator from Rosewater County, Indiana who founded the Rosewater Foundation. Eliot Rosewater is convinced that he should spend the family riches to help the poor and uses the Foundation to this end, an idea looked down upon by his father. Norman Mushari, an opportunistic former associate of the Rosewater family lawyer, attempts to have Eliot declared insane so that the family wealth can be inherited by his new client, a distant relative to the east. After becoming lucid after a year-long mental blackout, Rosewater’s favorite writer, Kilgore Trout, tries to explain to the Senator that Eliot’s actions were sane and compassionate.
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade, first published in 1969, features Eliot Rosewater in Chapter Five. Billy Pilgrim, the main character of the novel, has committed himself to a psychiatric hospital during his last year of optometry school, and finds himself sharing a room with Eliot Rosewater. Eliot introduces Billy Pilgrim to the works of Kilgore Trout, which set the foundation for Billy’s adventures through time and with the Tralfamadorians, aliens that Billy claims abducted him.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s depiction of his home town of Indianapolis swung between admiration and contempt, but it always conveyed a basic sense of longing. A new museum there showcases the complicated feelings the novelist felt for the city in which his mother bore him — and killed herself.
Now open on weekends and open full-time in 2011, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library has been a labor of love for volunteers like President Julia Whitehead and her board, which includes three of Vonnegut’s children and his friend Morley Safer. Although its collection is still taking shape, it features a virtual reliquary of Vonnegut’s personal effects, many of which will be familiar to readers of his novels. And, in a nod to the man’s own visual inclinations, his squiggly collaborations with printmaker Joe Petro are also given pride of place.
While Vonnegut bitterly lampooned the placelessness of Midwestern life in Breakfast of Champions with his portrait of a fictional “Midland City” based on Indianapolis, he also wrote warmly of the way the very flatness of the region could inspire “awe for an Edenic continent stretching forever in all directions.” After leaving Indiana for Cornell and and the Army, Vonnegut often looked back, but never returned for very long. The Vonnegut presented by the exhibits in this small but worthwhile museum is at once unassuming and extraordinary, much like the city that shaped him.
Breakfast of Champions tells the story of the events that lead up to the meeting of Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover, the meeting itself, and the immediate aftermath. Trout is a struggling science fiction writer who, after their fateful meeting, becomes successful and wins a Nobel Prize; Hoover is a wealthy businessman who is going insane, sent over the brink by his encounter with Trout.
Trout, who believes himself to be completely unknown as a writer, receives an invitation to the Midland City arts festival, and Trout travels to Midland City. First he goes to New York City, where he is abducted and beaten up by the only anonymous, faceless characters in the book, who through the media gain the moniker “The Pluto Gang.” He hitches a ride first with a truck driver whose truck says PYRAMID on its side, with whom he discusses everything from politics to sex to the destruction of the planet. Then he hops a ride with the only clearly happy character in the book, the driver of a Galaxie who works for himself as a traveling salesman.
Dwayne Hoover gets more and more insane as the book progresses. He terrifies his employee at the Pontiac agency, Harry LeSabre, by criticizing his clothes. LeSabre is afraid Hoover has discovered that he is a closet transexual. Then he gets in a fight with his mistress and secretary, Francine Pefko because he accuses her of asking him to buy her a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.
Trout and Hoover meet in the cocktail lounge of the new Holiday Inn, where Hoover’s homosexual and estranged son, Bunny, plays the piano. When the bartender turns on the black lights and Trout’s white shirt glows brilliantly, Hoover is entranced by it. He accosts Trout and reads his novel, Now It Can Be Told. The premise of the novel is that there is only one creature with free will in the universe (the reader of the novel) and everyone else is a robot. Hoover interprets its message as addressed to him from the Creator of the Universe, and goes on a violent rampage, injuring many people around him and ending up in a mental hospital.
In the Epilogue, Trout is released from the hospital with a partially severed finger (Hoover has bitten it off in his rampage), and is wandering back to the arts festival, which has unbeknownst to him been canceled. The narrator, who has become an interactive character in the universe of his own creation, watches Trout and then chases him down. He proves that he is the Creator of the Universe by sending Trout all around the world, through time and back. Then he returns to his own universe, presumably, through the “void,” while Trout yells after him, “Make me young!”
Throughout Breakfast of Champions, the reader is introduced to many minor characters as if they are major characters; the narrator points out that he means to write about life, and in life, everyone is as important a character as everyone else. He believes that the problems of the world can be traced back to humans wanting to live as if they are in a story book; this allows rulers to waste the lives of thousands of “minor” characters, and encourages people to kill one another and themselves for the effect of a dramatic ending. The narrator himself is an important character, interacting with the characters he has created and resembling Vonnegut himself in many ways.
The reader is also provided with short summaries of the works of Kilgore Trout. Their plots often demonstrate themes of Breakfast of Champions itself, a technique that aligns Vonnegut as an author with Trout as an author. For instance, Plague on Wheels deals with the extinction of a race of automobile-people. When the idea of the automobile is brought to Earth, Earthlings use it to destroy their own planet; the destruction of Earth is a theme that features frequently in Breakfast of Champions. Another example is “This Means You,” in which a small percentage of the inhabitants of Hawaii own all the land, and decide to enforce a No Trespassing rule. The rest of the citizens, who do not own the land, are forced to dangle from the strings of helium balloons rather than paddle offshore. This story thus explores the theme of overpopulation (also touched upon in Trout’s story Gilgongo!) as well as that of ownership, both of which are prominent in Breakfast of Champions.
Once a home for schoolchildren, this historic building (ca. 1918) was converted in 1993 into an arts and cultural center. The nonprofit organization hosts a variety of professional and contemporary art exhibits, offers a fine-arts education program, and provides retail and studio space for more than 80 artists in converted schoolrooms. The Emerson also hosts free community events such as Lunch on the Lawn in summer, with live music and food vendors every Wednesday afternoon; special holiday activities in December; and other concerts, events, and activities year-round.