The Next Chapter

Steph Cameron on why you should read Breakfast of Champions

The musician says Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut is vulgar and chaotic, and that's why you should read it.
Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, published in 1973, is the author's seventh novel and one of his most famous works. It's also a must read, according to singer-songwriter Steph Cameron. (Dial Press/Pheremone Records)

Musician Steph Cameron says she loves American author Kurt Vonnegut because "he is so impolite and frank and vulgar, but not in any way that hurts anyone." Lately, the B.C.-based folk singer has been reading one of Vonnegut's best-known works, Breakfast of Champions. 

Breakfast of Champions is about two characters — one is Kilgore Trout, a science fiction writer who considers himself a failure and whose work is so unrecognized that it's basically only produced as filler in pornographic magazines. He gets a letter in the mail from a stranger who calls him a genius and invites him to be a keynote speaker at an arts conference in Midland City, in the midwestern United States. So he decides that he's going to hitchhike to this symposium, basically with the intention of destroying any correlation between beauty and art and dignity that these people may have.

The other character is Dwayne Hoover, a Pontiac dealer in Midland City. And Dwayne starts to lose his mind, and Vonnegut puts up the idea and the philosophy that human beings are only responding to and acting out how they're programmed. So Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout meet, and Hoover is exposed to some of Trout's cynical science fiction and philosophy, and it basically sends him over the deep end, into this mad, chaotic rampage. 

Steph Cameron's comments have been edited and condensed.