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Breakfast in the Ruins by Michael Moorcock
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Breakfast in the Ruins (original 1971; edition 1980)

by Michael Moorcock

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211455,323 (3.33)3
Member:helver
Title:Breakfast in the Ruins
Authors:Michael Moorcock
Info:Avon Books (1980), Paperback
Collections:Fantasy/SciFi, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Fiction, Fantasy, Standalone, Read, Own, Glogauer, Reviewed

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Breakfast in the Ruins by Michael Moorcock (1971)

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I've never read another book structured quite like this one. The main thread of the book involves Karl Glogauer meeting a rich, stylishly dressed black man who ends up wining and dining Karl and introducing him to homosexuality. At certain points along the way, something triggers within Karl a memory of another life in another time. Each of these vignettes is prefaced by a excerpt from a historical document from or about the period in question. At the end of each vignette is a "What would you do?" scenario in which every choice is a bad one. At first the pattern seems odd, as you progress it becomes more normal.

The historical periods that frame the vignettes are chosen for the stresses they put on Glogauer; some are physical, others emotional or spiritual. Karl or his loved ones regularly end up dead. There are vignettes from the French Revolution, the Spanish occupation of Cuba, the English Industrial Revolution, the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, the Vietnam war and others.

As another commenter states, I didn't find it enjoyable but certainly interesting. In fact, for me it has many similarities to [The Source] by James A. Michener. ( )
  helver | Nov 10, 2012 |
In different places and times, we are shown scenes from the life of various incarnations of Karl Glogauer, citizen of the multiverse, growing up in a harsh world. Always at least partially of German Jewish origin, he usually finds himself in the midst of war or revolution. These scenes are linked by the story of an adult Karl in London in 1971 and there are also moral dilemmas (of the Sophie's Choice variety) at the end of each section, which I suppose are meant to make the reader think more carefully about the dilemmas Karl faces in his life/lives.

Karl Glogauer is the protagonist of another Moorcock book, "Behold the Man", which I preferred. I found Breakfast in the Ruins was interesting rather than enjoyable. It is not a book to read if you are feeling down; death stalks Karl throughout the multiverse. ( )
  isabelx | Apr 2, 2011 |
I remember reading this book ages ago (I must have bought it around 1979) and being blown away by its uncompromising, laughing cruelty. I don't know how I would find it now, perhaps dated. ( )
  annafdd | Sep 26, 2007 |
Although in many ways I rather like the book, I have always been irritated by the section featuring the Makhnovchina, when the railway guard is shot, which is an anecdote lifted directly from Paustovsky's "In that Dawn". Paustovsky trying to characterise Makhno as a drunken psychopath is to be expected, but I would have hoped for better from Moorcock.
  terrynova | Jun 29, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Moorcockprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Petagno, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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