"Once I understood what was making America such a dangerous, unhappy nation of people who had nothing to do with real life, I resolved to shun storytelling." - Kurt Vonnegut.
The most influential force in society, the media has for years been a chronicle of the zeitgeist, typifying public opinion on everything imaginable. For the outspoken the media is an invaluable tool with which to evangelise unspoken truths. During the latter half of the 20th Century, three ambassadors of American counter-culture - Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and Joseph Heller - used their art form as a weapon against society and the force that governed it. The trio's distinctly different approaches all pointed to the same targets - the heart of the American dream, and the jugular of US society. .
All of these writers live in a time where avarice, racism and corruption are rife in society and government. Hunter Thompson chronicles the "fear and loathing" he experiences in Las Vegas, but his themes are much farther reaching. By an unspoken caucus he became the leader of the disenchanted generation of late 60's America. Staunchly anti-Nixon, Thompson's pioneering work in Gonzo Journalism may have generated detractors of such stature as Tom Wolfe, but he remains for many the one true icon of New Journalism. .
One of Thompson's fans in the literary circle, Kurt Vonnegut, present at the bombing of Dresden (which gives him much ammunition with which to attack war and suffering), is perhaps more renowned for his unique narrative style than political agenda. Nevertheless, Breakfast of Champions is clearly designed to rub middle-America's face in the sheer, unadulterated ugliness of life with its frank and unrelenting dissection of US life. Regarded by many as one of the greatest American writers of all time, Vonnegut has created a truly delightful yet deeply sinister book. .
Joseph Heller is an author often compared to Vonnegut in the hall of 20th century American literati.