A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5

A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5

Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (REVIEW)

In the world of creative output, there are a number of peculiar inhabitants. You have, for instance, those who come from a long line of out-of-the-box folk, those who have had always a keen sense of observation and, in their travels through time, developed the ability to elegantly weave these little tidbits into captivating narratives. These inhabitants have essentially been primed throughout their entire upbringing to reside comfortably and naturally within this realm and, as a result, are among its most celebrated members.

Then there are those who, due to some unforeseen turn of events that took place during their life after which nothing else could really grasp their attention, had no choice but to document their experiences, perhaps eventually beginning to derive some sort of meaning from the act. These “late bloomers” (if you will) are typically welcomed into the world of the written word with open arms and starry-eyed grins.

There are those, unfortunately (for those of us who are not them), who have simply snuck their way into this vibrant community of creators despite never having engaged in anything creative themselves. Instead, they have decided to concoct a charade in which they present themselves as being creative by penning paperbacks stuffed from flap to flap with tired tropes and trite storylines that, ultimately, offer the reader nothing except an extremely tedious receptacle in which their time must be deposited, over and over, until the receptacle finally ties its bags up and high tails it out of town.

These insipid individuals typically only manage to stick around as long as their lack of ingenuity remains undetected; however, this can take quite some time to happen. Consequently, it is fairly safe to say that a substantial portion of the so-called “creative” landscape falls into this category.

Of course, there are those whose only desire is to put a pen against a piece of paper and play around with the arrangement of words so that they can put a few pennies in the ol’ piggy bank. While it would be a bit unfair to claim that these people are bereft of creativity, they are certainly lacking in forthrightness.

Perhaps the most interesting inhabitant, however, is the magician. For those of you who may be a little confused as to what I mean by this, I would like you to imagine that you are seated at a table on which rests a small piece of cloth. The cloth could be any color you like – this does not matter. All that matters is that it is small, flat, and stationary.

All of a sudden, the cloth begins to rise. Out walks a frog wearing a ship captain’s hat and polyester pajamas. He tips his hat to you and says “Jai péte!”, then hops from the table and heads for the fire exit. The cloth then begins to form a left hand, which it extends towards you in the hopes that you shake it firmly. Instinctively, you refuse, as you have always been told that offering someone your left hand to shake is highly disrespectful.

You get up from the table in order to flag down a waiter, or a chef, or even the owner of this joint, but there is no one in the room except for you. You look down at your wristwatch and see only a band of clay that is starting to wither at the seams.

You look up to see the foreboding night sky, looming above you without a star to offer in solace. You get down on your knees and beg the Lord above (if there even is one, which there is not in this story) to tell you what could possibly be going on.

In response, you hear my voice, haughtily informing you that there is no such thing as free will. You are forever destined to do whatever I want you to do, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You are my eternal subject – my slave, if you wish to think in those terms (I prefer subject, as it sounds a tad more regal).

How did I take a seemingly normal diner and turn him into a clump of play dough for me to mold as I please?

It is simple: with magic.

If you are still confused, it is probably because I am a pretty substandard magician. As a matter of fact, I have a strong feeling that I probably fall into one of those other categories (most likely the one I mentioned right before the magician).

You know who is a phenomenal magician, though?

Kurt Vonnegut.

One of the best to ever do it, in fact. Don’t take my word for it – take his. Read this book, and you will see exactly what I mean when I speak of this literary magic.

Any of his books will do, though. You see, when you read anything from Vonnegut, it is almost as if you are writing the story with him. It is a very playful affair, almost like a dance. A dance that seems improvised – at first, at least. By the end, however, you realize that the whole thing has been intentional; each step was carefully choreographed well beforehand so that you would be brought to the precise location that Kurt wanted you to end up at.        

But it doesn’t seem very intentional. It feels like…serendipity.

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