Professor Wu's Rulebook

Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Breakfast of Champions’ read aloud by John Malkovich


Malkovich? Malkovich Malkovich. Malkovich! Malkovich. No, this isn’t that scene from Being John Malkovich; but it’s still pretty good. You see, Audible has released a John Malkovich-narrated audio book of the Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions.

It seems this was a project Malkovich was pretty keen to work on. The acclaimed actor said: “Breakfast of Champions is just about the best script an actor could wish for, and it was a real treat to perform. I hope Vonnegut fans have as much fun listening to this challenging and funny American classic as I had recording it, and I believe those new to the book will discover it’s just as fresh and relevant as it was forty years ago.”

In the meta-fiction novel, which Vonnegut published four years after he released perhaps his most famous work, Slaughterhouse Five, readers once again encounter sci-fi writer Kilgore Trout, a reoccurring character in Vonnegut’s novels. Trout meets with car salesman Dwayne Hoover, who believes one of Trout’s science fiction books is, in fact, non-fiction.


The book is full of Vonnegut’s signature writing style, simple in sentence structure and syntax and rich in irony, sentimentality and didacticism. Dealing with suicide, free will, mental illness and social and economic cruelty, the novel received critical acclaim among reviewers and spent 56 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. However, Vonnegut himself was unhappy with the novel, and gave it a C grade on a report card of his published work.

You can listen to a sample of Malkovich’s narration here, and watch behind-the-scenes-footage of the recording below:

If you’re still in the mood for more Vonnegut, why not check out this mini-compendium of Vonnegut’s timeless wisdom on writing, reading, and semi-colons?

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