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Publisher's Summary

Bluebeard, published in 1987, is Vonnegut's meditation on art, artists, surrealism, and disaster.
Meet Rabo Karabekian, a moderately successful surrealist painter who we meet late in life and see struggling (like all of Vonnegut's key characters) with the dregs of unresolved pain and the consequences of brutality. Loosely based on the legend of Bluebeard (best realized in Bela Bartok's one-act opera), the novel follows Karabekian through the last events in his life, which are heavy with women, painting, artistic ambition, artistic fraudulence, and as of yet unknown consequence. Vonnegut's intention here is not so much satirical (although the contemporary art scene would be easy enough to deconstruct), nor is it documentary (although Karabekian does carry elements of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko). Instead Vonnegut is using art for the same purpose he used science fiction clichés in Slaughterhouse-Five: as a filter through which he can illuminate the savagery, cruelty, and essentially comic misdirection of human existence.
Listeners will recognize familiar Vonnegut character types and archetypes as they drift in and out through the background; meanwhile Karabekian, betrayed and betrayer, sinks through a bottomless haze of recollection. Like most of Vonnegut's late works, this is both science fiction and cruel, contemporary realism at once, using science fiction as metaphor for human damage as well as failure to perceive.
Listeners will find that Vonnegut's protagonists can never really clarify for us whether they are ultimately unwitting victims or simple barbarians, leaving it up to the listener to determine in which genre this audiobook really fits, if any at all.
©1987 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Darwin8u on 12-28-17

Kurt Vonnegut explores the arts

"What a fool I would have been to let self-respect interfere with my happiness!"
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

A pseudo memoir of Rabo Karabekian a minor Abstract Expressionist whose art literally disappeared (thanks to a poor choice in paints). It is hard to relay what the book essentially is, but obviously it is an autobiography of an almost loner, a hermit with a roommate. He lives in his big house in the Hamptons among the art he bought cheap (Rothkos, Pollocks, etc) years ago. He is being bullied into writing his memoirs by Polly Madison, a writer of cheap blockbuster novels. At its heart, this novel is Vonnegut working his way through some of his previous big themes (war, isolation, humanism, pacifism) along with explorations of art, commerce, &c.

This isn't one of his better novels, but is firmly in the middle of the pack. I personally wish Vonnegut spent more time playing with the artistic canvas, but the sections he spent dealing with Rabo apprenticing under Dan Gregory (I get a N.C. Wyeth or Howard Pyle vibe), a very popular illustrator, is worth the entire cost of reading anything clunky in some of the other sections.

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8 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 02-09-18

I expected Vonnegut to be a difficult read

Some reviewers said this wasn't his best book. That may very well be the case but I certainly enjoyed it. Now I'm anxious to find out how one of his better books will read.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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