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.