“This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.

One of them was Kilgore Trout. He was a nobody at the time, and he supposed his life was over. He was mistaken. As a consequence of the meeting, he became one of the most beloved and respected human beings in history.

The man he met was an automobile dealer, a Pontiac dealer named Dwayne Hoover. Dwayne Hoover was on the brink of going insane.”

Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut

Ayn Rand: serious and intense.
Kurt Vonnegut: irreverent, off the wall, fun, and yes, serious.

Ayn Rand’s approach was more intellectual and might leave the reader emotionally drained.
Kurt Vonnegut aimed for the gut, but the ride was so much fun, you didn’t mind the punch to the stomach.

“This is the tale of…”

A tale, not a story. Relax, dear reader, I’m just telling you a tale. No need to get uptight. Just two skinny, lonesome, old white men. They’re everywhere, these old white men. Yes, the planet is dying, but this is just a tale, remember?

And Kilgore Trout. How can you be a serious person if your name is Kilgore Trout? Such an unassuming nobody. Ok, so maybe he became one of the most beloved and respected persons — no, not just a person, a representative of the entire species we call human — in history. Not a mere fifteen minutes of fame, mind you. All of history.

The other character in this little tale is Dwayne Hoover, a car dealer. A wheeler dealer. But lest you think that this tale is going to get serious, one other little fact: Poor Dwayne is about to go bonkers.

Of course none of this really happened. It’s just an interesting little tale I made up, Vonnegut seems to be saying. Nothing to fear. Leave your intellect at the door. It’s just a silly little tale.

See? You didn’t even notice the sock to the gut.