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Bluebeard: A Novel [Paperback]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 8 1998 Delta Fiction
Broad humor and bitter irony collide in this fictional autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, who, at age seventy-one, wants to be left alone on his Long Island estate with the secret he has locked inside his potato barn. But then a voluptuous young widow badgers Rabo into telling his life story—and Vonnegut in turn tells us the plain, heart-hammering truth about man’s careless fancy to create or destroy what he loves.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Vonnegut rounds up several familiar themes and character types for his 13th novel: genocide, the surreality of the modern world, fluid interplay of the past and present, and the less-than-heroic figure taking center stage to tell his story. Here he elevates to narrator a minor character from Breakfast of Champions , wounded World War II veteran and abstract painter Rabo Karabekian. At the urging of enchantress-as-bully Circe Berman, Karabekian writes his "hoax autobiography." Vonnegut uses the tale to satirize art movements and the art-as-investment mind-set and to explore the shifting shape of reality. Although not among his best novels, Bluebeard is a good one and features liberal doses of his off-balance humor. Recommended. A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Ranks with Vonnegut’s best and goes one step beyond . . . joyous, soaring fiction.”—The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

“Vonnegut is at his edifying best.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist. ”—Time

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
HAVING WRITTEN "The End" to this story of my life, I find it prudent to scamper back here to before the beginning, to my front door, so to speak, and to make this apology to arriving gusts: "I promised you an autobiography, but something went wrong in the kitchen. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "How Did your Parents Die?" Nov. 22 2003
Format:Paperback
_Bluebeard_ has no time-travel, aliens, human robots, or Kilgore Trout, but is a very Kurt Vonnegut book, and my favorite of his novels. _Bluebeard_ is a very life-affirming novel over-all: a rare Vonnegut stance, but one I wish he'd explored more often.
_Bluebeard_ is the story of Rabo Karabekian, an Armenian-American Abstract Expressionist painter, told from the point of view of a autobiography/diary. Rabo is inspired to begin this work after an encounter with a bright, vibrant woman, Circe Berman, a writer of bright, vibrant novels for young adults, who doesn't believe in saying "hello" and instead greets him with the question "how did your parents die?"
These quirky moments of conversation and life color the whole novel. But the novel is not all humor and lightness; Circe's question demonstrates the bitter-sweet nature of much of the novel. Much of that which gives the novel its humanity are the moments of despair and sad revelation. But the revelations are not that of destiny controlling aliens, or the author giving free-will to his creations, a strength of the book, and over-all the book is positive.
Like Rabo, Vonnegut departs from the genre that he's known for, but both end up creating masterpieces that touch the soul and open room for wonder in Vonnegut's world.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut hasn't failed me yet July 3 2003
By K Cole
Format:Paperback
Bluebeard was the 4th Vonnegut novel I've read, and after reading it, I'm now almost done with my 5th. He never ceases to amaze me with how he pulls it all together in the end. Vonnegut has the knack for perfect endings, and this is no exception.
I was a bit scared at the 'topic' of the book, which is a mock autobiography of an impressionist painter, as I've never been too heavily into the artistic world of painting, but regardless of the subject matter, the book is very much more.
Rabo Karabekian, a minor character in "Breakfast of Champions," is a stubborn, ghost of his past self at the opening of the book, until Circe Berman, a widow and pop novelist, shows up at his estate and begins to seek the non-ethereal man.
While the novel is in the style of an autobiography, it is also crossed with a sort of journal of Karabekian's relationship with Berman, his cook, and his last surviving painter friend. All of the characters have depth, yet are developed slowly enough to be well digested.
Throughout the novel, a Bluebeard theme is carried out, with Karabekian having locked up something in his potato-barn-turned-studio that everyone is dying to discover. Like something out of Catch-22, there are other smaller "Bluebeards" throughout the novel, as we see Rabo's childhood, 'apprenticeship', military service, marriages, painting career, and retirement.
Anyone that likes Vonnegut will love this book, and anyone that hasn't read Vonnegut should.
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5.0 out of 5 stars eessential reading Oct. 4 2002
Format:Paperback
Vonnegut's sem-autobiography, based on the interesting life of Rabo Karabekian, an Armenian-American, war veteran, abstract expressionalist painted, who after the death of his 2nd wife to cancer, became a morose recluse in his house in the Hamptons. He's decaying one day at a time, until an eccentric young woman named Circe Berman invades his privacy, bullies him into writing his autobiography, and revitalizes him with a new approach to life. It has many uncanny similarities to Vonnegut's life, such as the experiences in Dresden, Germany, being married twice, and being unconventional and unique in their respective art forms (writing and painting in this case).

The journey begins with Rabo's parents escaping the Armenian Holocaust, then leads to his apprenticeship to Dan Gregory, a prominent Norman Rockwell-type painter who treats him like a peasant, and who is infatuated and enchanted by Hitler's philosophy, and the dictatorship in Europe circa World War 2. It also shows his affair with Gregory's girlfriend, Marilee Kemp, and their betrayal to Dan Gregory by going to the Museum of Modern Art and by making love to each other. It also shows his introduction to abstract-expressionism, and being in the same ilk as gorundbreaking and innovative painters, such as Jackson Pollock and Terry Rothko, both died due to self-destructive behavior.

This is a book you have to follow carefully in order to understand, since Vonnegut likes to switch back and forth to different time periods and zeitgeists in the course of this book. But it is essential reading, and certainly one of the most memorable books I have ever read in my entire life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More Kurt Aug. 2 2002
Format:Paperback
Kurt Vonnegut is one of our most treasured modern American writers, and with good reason. Although it is not one of his masterpieces, Bluebeard is another fine novel from Vonnegut. It's written in the highly caustic first-person style of many of his books, and his writing is just as devastatingly clever as ever. The amazing thing about Vonnegut is that his prose is very simple - almost child-like at times. This would seem at first glance to trivialize the contents or take away from the produndity of the book, but this it does not do. As Michael Crichton has pointed out in his essay on Vonnegut, this seems like a really simple way to write; but, as anyone who has actually tried to do it knows, it is actually much more difficult than it seems. What makes this particular book special is that here we encounter perhaps Vonnegut's most recognizably human character. He has his faults, like all of us, and is a very tender and lovable character (as opposed to, say, the narrarator in Hocus Pocus.) We feel this man's tragedies as we go along. That his story is told to us through typical Vonnegut wit and farce makes it only that much the better. Highly reccommended for fans of the author.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I'm a fan of Vonnegut, this is less sensational than most of his novels but it does have a great story and a gift at the end.
Published 17 months ago by Brian M. Guthreau
5.0 out of 5 stars nobody could paint uniforms like Dan Gregory........
The story of Rabo Karabekian a painter,father a man caught in his past. Vonnegut's writing about one of his characters in Rabo whom as been in other of his works. Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by yessca
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Vonnegut's Most Hearfelt Works
I'm a huge Vonnegut fan. He is one of the strongest influences on my own writing. However, while I usually find his stories full of real characters who are in unreal situations... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2004 by Eric D. Knapp
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best books
I am a big fan of Vonnegut. This author will amaze you every time. Bluebeard is deffinatly in the same ranks with Cat's cradle and Breakfast of Champions
Published on Feb. 2 2004 by Stanislav Dakhe
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Vonnegut
In the 5 or 6 Vonnegut books I've read so far, I've yet to be disappointed, and Bluebeard is certainly no exception. It is, however, one of his less fantastic tales. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2003 by Archange M. Chavannes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Solid, Funny/Sad Book!
This is book is an exemplification of life and its ironies. The author has such a witty yet down-to-earth writing slyle that makes the reader curious as to what lies ahead. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2003 by Relentless
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the simplicity, sheer genius.....
I don't normally write reviews for books that I've read, but on this one I couldn't remain silent. As good as Slaughterhouse Five was, Bluebeard shows a more mature, well-refined... Read more
Published on July 29 2002 by Alex L. Gelb
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Vonnegut
Bluebeard harbors two themes: good old-fashioned appreciation of the USA and the human spirit's longing to achieve something great in life. Read more
Published on July 6 2002 by R. Tiedemann
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo,
Kurt Vonnegut-for writing glib, memorable characters to take part in your puppet shows. An aging Abstract Expressionist is trying to enjoy his last years in obscurity when a woman... Read more
Published on May 29 2002 by Ronald Battista
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