Bluebeard: A Novel

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At the opening of the book, the narrator, Rabo Karabekian apologizes to the arriving guests: "I promised you an autobiography, but something went wrong in the kitchen One afternoon, Circe Berman wanders onto Karabekian's private beach. When he reaches out to greet her, she catches him by surprise with the forward statement "Tell me how your parents died. After a drink and supper, Karabekian invites her to stay with him, as Slazinger does.

After time, he finds her charm "manipulative," as she typically gets her way. Berman does not respect his abstract art collection, including works by Jackson Pollock. She explores every inch of Karabekian's home, constantly asking him questions.

Kurt Vonnegut's Version of the Fairytale Bluebeard: Writing About Writing for People Who Don't Read

The only place off limits to her is the potato barn. The potato barn is the home of Karabekian's studio and holds his "secret". It has no windows, and Karabekian has gone through the trouble of nailing one end shut and immobilizing the other with six padlocks. His life is forever changed one day when he meets Circe Berman and is pressured by her to write his autobiography — Bluebeard.

We spend our time with Rabo Karabekian divided between the present day, and the past. The I was sad when it ended. The hilarity ensures. I read this mostly on a train to and from work, and must have looked slightly ridiculous with all the times I shut the book and just laughed. This is a book that deals with the Armenian genocide, a man that beats up his wife, suicide, being maimed in World War II our protagonist was not born a Cyclops, he tells us on page 1, he was deprived of his eye while commanding a platoon of Army Engineers , and about the desolation a man feels as he looks back at all his failures in his life.

All this, and the book was laugh out loud funny, never felt too heavy, and concluded so triumphantly and hopeful, that it got me slightly very slightly! Only Vonnegut. He just makes writing look so damn easy. He writes as if he was speaking to a small child, but it is never ever condescending. It just flows with such ease, elegance, and efficiency. This is a prime example of substance over form. That being said, I think this would be a great first book for those not familiar with Vonnegut. The absurdity of war is a note that Vonnegut loves to play. Also, his disdain for the male sex in general: "After all that men have done to the women and children and every other defenseless thing on this planet, it is time that not just every painting, but every piece of music, every statue, every play, ever poem and every book a man creates, should say only this: "We are much too horrible for this nice place.

We give up. We quit. The end! Having been struggling musician myself, a lot of what Vonnegut writes about rings a bell of truth for me. The entire planet can get along nicely now with maybe a dozen champion performers in each area of human giftedness. A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tap dances on the coffee table like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.

We have a name for him or her.


We call him or her an "exhibitionist. We say to him or her next morning. Were you ever drunk last night! That was true. In the movies you seldom saw the babies who had done most of the heavy fighting on the ground in the war. They came home to the wife and kids and swimming pool after every grueling day in front of the cameras, after firing off blank cartridges while men all around them were spitting catsup.

So they do. Feb 28, Petra rated it liked it. I enjoyed this story. Rabo Karabekian is writing is memoir and we, the readers, are in on the story. There's war, childhood, friendships, loss, gain Throughout Rabo is expressing his lament that his paintings, which he considers mediocre, are somewhat outside the realm of "great art". And yet he'd like them to withstand the test of time and remain What is the purpose of art, of life, of himself?

Within this story he ponders all this and more. The secret of the Potato Barn? It's fantastic. Listened to this while jogging. Both books brought the elderly protagonists to life as they told their life stories. Both were quietly told stories with lots of depth. View 1 comment. Sep 27, Lindsay rated it it was ok. I was lured to this book by Breakfast of Champions, a Vonnegut book that I loved. But sadly I was disappointed. Instead, I received none of that. Bluebeard is unusual in comparison to his other books.

Its critiques on the world and human life are blatant and deliberate, rather than his usual subtle remarks. The main character, Rabo Karabekian, is a widowed former painter who is writing as an autobiography. Rabo is a sad character. Rabo himself is missing an eye. When a bossy, mysterious writer invites herself into his mansion, Rabo opens up about his life, his art and his sadness. For me, the story was slow moving, and plodding until the reader discovers the secret in the barn.

This saved the book. Feb 18, Sandi rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , humor , absurdist-fiction , classics. I would call this the most mature of any of Vonnegut's books that I have read so far. I know that Vonnegut began his novel writing close to the age of 30 which is considered an adult but his work still lacked maturity.

Which can be a good thing as his earlier works were meant to be biting satire and not high literature. Bluebeard is more melancholy and less slapstick than Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions which he is more renowned for. It has a more subtle humour that lends itself t I would call this the most mature of any of Vonnegut's books that I have read so far. It has a more subtle humour that lends itself to better storytelling.

This perspective and style work really well when looking at life through art. I felt I was looking into Vonnegut's heart and mind as I read each page.

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The medium is different but the message is the same. This really make's McLuhan's the medium is the message resonate with me.

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That's not to say he doesn't take the occasional bite out of how we view the art world. He does, and with relish. I think I've found a new favourite by Mr. Vonnegut and one I would rather use to introduce people to the real brilliance of his writing. Mar 11, Dan rated it liked it Shelves: novels. Karabekian is the narrator, and in addition to telling his own biography, he comments on modern art. Shelves: fiction. Vonnegut's biting satire comes through with this, his profile of fictional artist Rabo Karabekian.

The genius of Vonnegut is his ability to see the humor in the worst tragedies, all of which he says are born of human folly. The protagonist just wants to live out his last days on his Long Island home but then is convinced by a seductive widow t Vonnegut's biting satire comes through with this, his profile of fictional artist Rabo Karabekian. The protagonist just wants to live out his last days on his Long Island home but then is convinced by a seductive widow to write his own autobiography. Karabekian is the strongest character in the book the others are not as developed as I would have liked and through him, Vonnegut's love for art and particularly the Ab-Ex movement come through.

An art movement not without its own tragedies for the painters involved. Metaphorically, she represents the shock of the new: a creative jolt he has missed since his second wife's death. The real mystery is whether he will bare his soul to her, along with the secret he keeps locked in his potato barn. Aug 24, Bella Baghdasaryan rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. May 22, Joel Lacivita rated it really liked it.

Another interesting Vonnegut book. He covers the usual gamet of Vonnegut trademarks - WWII, a reactive protagonist as opposed to proactive how art can be quite useless etc The book is filled with great quotes and many thought provoking ideas. It's not one of his most famous books partially because in my opinion it has so many cross over themes from his other novels.

He's talked about some of these themes before but comes at them from a different angle in Bluebeard. A very brilliant writer Another interesting Vonnegut book. A very brilliant writer and one of my all time favorites. No one had his unique sense of humor and no one ever will. Kurt wondered when mankind will ever see the senseless of war.

As he said, maybe it's time to give women a chance. By far, my favourite Vonnegut book though, to be fair, I've only read two others: Slaughterhouse-Five and Mother Night. I'm also biased because the main character was Armenian, and I could relate. Incidentally, however, I was inspired to read Vonnegut from YouTuber climbthestacks. Her video series on where to begin reading certain authors includes Vonnegut, and she too said her favourite book was Bluebeard , so I'm in good company : I read a library copy, but I'll definitely be buying this book By far, my favourite Vonnegut book though, to be fair, I've only read two others: Slaughterhouse-Five and Mother Night.

Her video series on where to begin reading certain authors includes Vonnegut, and she too said her favourite book was Bluebeard , so I'm in good company : I read a library copy, but I'll definitely be buying this book for my personal library. Before you even realize it suddenly becomes addictive. The flow of the book is fantastic. May 31, M. Hudson rated it really liked it.

More Vonnegut I really liked this one. Some of the smartest commentary on modern art well, sort of modern -- the abstract expressionists and just being human via art Ah, I'm not doing this justice. It's grumpy and the ending is a little implausible the final masterpiece sounds pretty cool the way a World War II diorama of infinite detail is cool I like that sort of stuff, but I find it hard to consider it sublime, exactly.

I miss Kurt Vonnegut. Dec 14, Samson Martirosyan rated it it was amazing. It seems like every book by Vonnegut is better than the previous one I read. That said, over the last six years, it's fucking haunted me what ol' Rabo was keeping secret in that potato barn. And now I know. And while it wasn't anything mind-blowing or completely crazy or shocking or anything, what's in that potato barn is vintage Vonnegut.

And if you know Vonnegut already, I don't have to explain it to you. If you don't know Vonnegut, I won't explain it to you, either, but I will say don't choose this as your first Vonnegut book. Which brings me to an aside that will be the entirety of my actual "review". BLUEBEARD is basically a straightforward story, taking place entirely in a "believable" reality, whereas many of his other books contain elements of science fiction, science fantasy, and other fantastical shhhhtuufff.

In fact, if it wasn't for the ending and that potato barn, I'd likely have not liked this book as much. It's the charming tale of a post-modern artist, lonely and in the twilight of his life, and it's chock-full of quotable lines, but it seemed a little slower and less exciting than his other books--for me. When he allows the fantastical into his stories, they just POP more for me. Anyway, have at it. In the end, it's worth it, of course. Jan 17, Graham Wilhauk rated it it was ok Shelves: read-in-june I don't remember this much and what I did remember was not very good. I am giving this one a 2.

Very enjoyable to be exact. Yet, it is still one of Vonnegut's weaker novels. However, proving his brilliance, even his weaker novels are still very enjoyable. That is when you have a great author!

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  4. Like I said, the book is overall good! The story is interesting, the characters are interesting, and the way the story develops is wonderful. However, there is something that was wrong here. The usage of words wasn't the best. I could easily skip a paragraph of descriptions and not miss a thing. It was not how Vonnegut usually handles descriptions for which he handles excellently, BTW.

    Bluebeard Reading Review

    So, if you are into Vonnegut, I could safely recommend this. Please do start with "Slaughterhouse-Five" or "Cat's Cradle. Finally, a book that isn't mediocre or bad in this month. I'm satisfied. Dec 15, Chris Dietzel rated it it was amazing. Sarcastic and haunted by what he has experienced. This is Vonnegut at his best. Slaughterhouse-Five is still my all-time favorite because of its science fiction element, but this is just as effective in combining pain with humor. After reading it, it seems odd to me that this book isn't one of his more popular.

    If you loved Slaughterhouse-Five but couldn't find anothe Sarcastic and haunted by what he has experienced. If you loved Slaughterhouse-Five but couldn't find another Vonnegut book that you enjoyed as much, give this one a shot. Mar 05, J. It's been years since I've read ol' Vonny, and I thought it'd be worthwhile to pick my way back through his works at random and revisit him.

    Now, I've always had a special place in my heart for Vonny, and I regard him as influential in my own writing, but, goddamn, I'd been so displaced in time from him that I'd really and truthfully forgotten what a goddamn terrific author he is. The narrative is playful and jumps about, but it's such a gentle and lulling absurdity, peppered with non-epiphanies and beautiful, simple thoughts, that you don't really notice.

    Vonnegut's books are hard to summarise as the usual elements are always present and eminently sum-up-able: good-natured satire, moving stories-within-stories, shabby protags who inherit and lose fortunes as naturally as TV remotes, strong women always at the centre of life's mayhem, the ghost of WWII past. Feb 11, Steve Lowe rated it it was amazing. This may not be considered one Vonnegut's better books, but it just spoke to me, and stayed with me.

    Loved this one, probably because of all of Vonnegut's characters, Rabo Karabekian seemed the most real to me. Without fantastic elements, the book nonetheless manages to be wry, funny, insightful, and ultimately very touching. As with many of my favorite books, the ending never fails to leave me deeply moved. A fictional autobiography about an abstract expressionist painter, Bluebeard is a rich and vibrant tale about the quest for meaning in life and art. Humorously told, it is a quick but enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it.

    In the book, Rabo, the main character, is an erstwhile early member of the Abstract Expressionist painting movement. The book touches on generosity, minorities-with-lack-of-mentorship, love, fate of women in our universal struggle, without some of the more common Vonnegut problems of lust, technology, and ignorance. Perhaps Vonnegut's best. If you have read Vonnegut before, then you know what to expect from this book. In fact, there are hints of Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, and a few other of his books within the pages.

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    We have an artist writing about his past, but in the process letting us know about his present. It is Vonnegut pontificating on many of his regular subjects - war, humanity, what the heck is this life anyway - through odd characters in odd situations. But, even if it is a slight rehash, it is always good to read Vonnegut. And, even if this isn't groundbreaking, it is another chance to taste Vonnegut's excellent story telling. And, if you have not read Vonnegut before, start with a different book. Not that this one isn't good, you will just be better off starting somewhere else.

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