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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  23,073 ratings  ·  815 reviews
Broad humor & bitter irony collide in this fictional autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, who, at age 71, 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--& Vonnegut in turn tells us the plain, heart-hammering truth about humankind's carele ...more
Paperback, 287 pages
Published 1999 by Da Capo (first published 1987)
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Mar 30, 2007 Arian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who don't hate good books
One thing I've discovered is that people tend to have different favorites of Vonnegut's work. Many prefer Slaughter House Five, some love Breakfast of Champions, and my sister's favorite is Galapagos.

The only person I've ever met whose favorite Vonnegut book is Bluebeard is... me. So it goes.

The book follows former abstract expressionist painter Rabo Karabekian, serving as his autobiography and a mystery story simultaneously. The mystery? What is Rabo keeping in the huge potato barn on his larg
This is Vonnegut, so it’s quirky, knowing, silly, intelligent, funny, mysterious (what IS in the potato barn?) and anti-war – amongst many other things. It's conversational, and broken into very short chunks, but don't be deceived into thinking it's lightweight.

It claims to be the autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, an Armenian-American WW2 veteran who became a major figure in Abstract Expressionism, after an apprenticeship with realist illustrator, Dan Gregory. It reads more as a memoir, intersp
This is maybe the fourth or fifth Vonnegut book I've read, having only been introduced to him recently, sadly. I'm becoming quite a fan of his writing. What I like about him is that a lot of deep truths mask the ironic and humorous statements he makes. Definitely a must-read for those who like satire.
Wow. This was a novel that's going to keep me thinking for a long, long time. It was everything jam packed into a small little book: clever, tragic, engrossing, laugh out loud funny, imaginative, unexpected, and even transformative, I think. There are so many layers to this book I'm sure I'll be thinking about it off and on for the next several months at least and will almost definitely re-read this book a number of times before I reach room temperature.

Check it out: The protagonist/autobiograph
Ben Babcock
I read Vonnegut now. Vonnegut is cool.

I have vague memories of reading Vonnegut before—I have some very old, very pulp editions of some of his other novels that I … er … “liberated” from my father. I swear I’ve read Breakfast of Champions before, and I’m pretty sure I read either Cat’s Cradle or Player Piano at my sister’s wedding. I remember this because I was only 15, but the server still offered me wine (I declined). Suffice it to say, although Vonnegut is associated with some interesting mem
Oct 08, 2007 Dave-O rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fictional Abstract Expressionists
Shelves: fiction
Vonnegut's biting satire comes through with this, his profile of fictional artist Rabo Karabekian. The book spans such events as the Turkish Armenian genocide, World War II, and the post-war climate in New York that gave birth to Abstract-Expressionism.

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
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 was lured to this book by Breakfast of Champions, a Vonnegut book that I loved. But sadly I was disappointed. I wanted Vonnegut’s classic writing style; his unpredictable qualms, his interrogative view of the world and his illuminating illustrations. 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 ...more
I was sad when it ended. I'll miss the wonderful characters Vonnegut
has created. But like all of Vonnegut's books, it's one I hope to revisit many times in the future.

Bluebeard is a fictional autobiography of a cranky old
Armenian modern painter living alone on a beachside estate. 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
Joel Lacivita
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 ...more
M. D.  Hudson
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.
Eleanor Crook
Dry , detailed and perceptive about artmaking, realism, abstraction and meaning. Starts light and flippant, quickly gets deep and makes you really ponder. Any practicing artist should get their head around this novel. Is the artist's mentor meant to be Rockwell? Not sure...welcome to a reimagined 1950s art scene.
Talking about this book is a complicated thing. Humans are complicated things, and this book is, as many others by Kurt Vonnegut, exactly about said complicated things. Note the plural.

Rabo Karabekian is a painter. Some might call him a fraud. He is the child of a genocide and a victim of the war. He is also writing his memoir... Or is it a diary? It might just become one if the widow Circe Berman's interruptions keep their pace; Rabo settles on it being both.

And it's both a memoir and a diary w
Chris Dietzel
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. For me, it was a much more enjoyable read than Breakfast of Champions and Galápagos, which came off as a little too over-the-top. If you loved Slaughterhouse-Five but couldn't find anothe ...more
Mar 25, 2008 Nate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nate by: Emily Fillo, I think
I'm not sure how it happens...but some books become classics, while other books become forgotten. This is often the case among even the most famous of authors, who become known mostly for one or two books, while the majority of their work is unread, even though the quality of the forgotten work is sometimes quite high. In Kurt Vonnegut's case, most people know of "Cat's Cradle" or "Slaughterhouse Five," perhaps also "Breakfast of Champions," but they are unfamiliar with the rest of his work. It' ...more
I re-read this every couple of years and am always surprised to remember how many of the things that I think or believe are lifted directly from this book. Also, I think about 2/3s of the "Kurt Vonnegut said..." things that I go on about are also from this one novel (The others are mostly from "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater"). There are so many great bits about art and loneliness and Life and Everything. Realism v. Abstract Impressionism and Is It Art? 'Flensing' your enemies in order to forgive t ...more
Dec 23, 2007 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kurt Vonnegut fans, abstract expressionists, fans of abstract expressionism
This book is about Rabo Karabekian, failed abstract expressionist painter, father, but decent soldier.

The story is half memoir, half diary of the time period where the main character is writing is his memoir. Thus it provides a more natural jumping around in time than other Vonnegut books, like Slaughter House 5. The story, told in different times comes together quite well, as the character develops nicely.

As per standard this is written with Vonnegut's simple and easy to read, yet sophisticate
This is the third book by Vonnegut that I've read (fourth if you count Man Without a Country), and it seems like every book I read by him makes me want to read more of his work.

I don't know that I can accurately describe what makes this so interesting (just like Rabo Karebekian can't or won't describe for most of the novel what he's keeping in the padlocked potato barn), but I know that I didn't want to put it down. I could feel that the plot was slowly, subtly, taking us to a specific destinati
Jan 11, 2008 Mazzeo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is into art or Vonnegut
Vonnegut’s views of art and artists expressed through a fictional character.

I’ll avoid my standard cheerleading stance for Vonnegut’s work and focus on the great explanation of an art’s life. We see the world through the character, and he sees all of life’s experiences are seen through the lens of art. Anything of importance or significance is relative to his passion. Even his sex life is ruled by his need to paint. On a number of occasions the story itself loses momentum, though it never grind
MJ Nicholls
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.

This one hits at the same highs as his other eighties novels, Deadeye Dick and Galápagos, and deserves more attention.
Erik Graff
Aug 11, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
Although not one of his most popular novels, this is one of my favorites. Vonnegut combines humor and pathos within a gentle satire in this reflection about war and human destructiveness. To Vonnegut, we're all not far removed from our childhoods and their insecurities, but now we no longer have kind parents to protect us and to appear to answer our questions.

Whether Vonnegut knew of the CIA's funding of abstract expressionism is unknown to me. If not, he anticipates their latterly revealed moti
Когато започваш нова книга на Кърт Вонегът, сигурно е единствено, че не знаеш какво те очаква. И никакви анотации, блърбове или откъси не могат да променят това. От друга страна, Кърт Вонегът винаги поставя “ключовете” за историите си преди началото. И преди началото на “Синята брада” има бележка от автора, която започва с думите “Тази книга е роман и едновременно с това иронична автобиография” и завършва с епиграф, показателен за всичко, което Вонегът някога е написал:

„Ние трябва да си помагаме
3,5. Vonnegucie, stary szarlatanie, ja już Cię przejrzałam i wyczuwam zdania i słowa kolejne. Nie przeszkadza mi to, dopóty jeszcze sprawiasz, że zaśmiewam się głośno.
Paul Slazinger pojechał do Polski, jakby nie miał dokąd.
The Basics

Rabo Karabekian is an artist aging alone in a big house full of modern art. Then one day he finds Circe Berman, a young widow, on his private beach. She urges him to write an autobiography about his life, invites herself to live in his house, and starts asking questions about the locked potato barn on his property. Herein, Rabo unravels his life story and eventually comes to face that barn himself.

My Thoughts

Vonnegut doesn’t write bad books. I’ve come to believe that wholeheartedly. I
Joseph Sverker
I simply love Vonnegut's quirkiness and wonderful fantasy. His characters are just so unreal and satirical, yet so real and illuminative(?) into today's society. Vonnegut has the capacity to be ironic in such a subtle way (or at least I think it is irony). Like, for instance, when he, through the character, points out how much people are willing to pay for what is child's play - paint on paper, running, kicking and so on. At the same time, I got moved when readin Bluebeard. There is the seriousn ...more
Andrew Breslin
This is my second favorite of Vonnegut's books, after Slaughterhouse Five, which is as magnum an opus as anyone ever produced. Though I have not conducted a scientific, statistically significant poll, or even an unscientific, statistically insignificant one, I'm pretty sure most people would rate Slaughterhouse Five at number one.

Few pick this as number two. Cat's Cradle is the most often cited second-best work. Mother Night gets much deserved praise. But Bluebeard will always hold a specia
John M.

When an author like Kurt Vonnegut has already written so many great books (Slaughterhouse-Five, Cats Cradle, etc) it’s easy to pass over a book like Bluebeard. It’s a shame because Bluebeard is an excellent novel, and for just about any other author, Bluebeard would have been their greatest work.

I see Bluebeard as an unsung novel in Vonnegut’s bibliography. It’s the fictional autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, son of Armenian immigrants, who studies as an illustrator and becomes a painter. Promp
I remember *really* liking this book when I read it years ago, and thinking I would like the rest of Vonnegut's books. I never did like any of his other books much, and yet as I read this one again, I think, "I *must* like his others!" But maybe this is destined to be the only one. It's the autobiography of artist Rabo Karabekian, looking back over his life at age 71 and reflecting on his current state of affairs while he's writing this book. We learn of his parents surviving the Armenian genoci ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Skinneejay rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like characters more than plot, Vonnegut fans.

Most of the time, when you hear about Vonnegut, you hear about Slaughterhouse-Five. You will also hear about Cat's Cradle or Breakfast Of Champions. Yet, here I am and the first Vonnegut book I reviewe is Bluebeard, which is considered one of his lesser novels. I didn't even choose Mother Night or The Sirens Of Titan. Why? The answer is simple: I read Slaughterhouse long time ago and just finished Bluebeard. Don't worry. I promise more Vonnegut. Someday.

So Bluebeard is a novel about an Armenian
ο ράμπο καραμπεκιάν είναι ένας αρμενικής καταγωγής βετεράνος του β' παγκοσμίου πολέμου και πρώην ζωγράφος του κινήματος του αφηρημένου εξπρεσιονισμού, ο οποίος μετά τον θάνατο της δεύτερης συζύγου του φαίνεται να έχει αφεθεί στο έλεος του χρόνου και στη φθορά που αυτός φέρνει.
η μονότονη καθημερινότητά του θα αλλάξει όταν η μυστηριώδης κίρκη μπέρμαν μπει στη ζωή του και τον αναγκάσει να γράψει με το ζόρι την αυτοβιογραφία του (το βιβλίο που διαβάζουμε).
έτσι, διαβάζουμε για την γενοκτονία των αρμε
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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali
More about Kurt Vonnegut...
Slaughterhouse-Five Cat's Cradle Breakfast of Champions The Sirens of Titan Mother Night

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“All right - I'll tell you what you did for me: you went for happy, silly, beautiful walks with me.” 286 likes
“It's the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: 'Good-bye.” 124 likes
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