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Bluebeard

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  29,270 Ratings  ·  1,082 Reviews
Alt cover 1st printing 0440201969
Although the silver comes through as whiteBroad humor and bitter irony collide in Vonnegut's fictional biography of aging artist Rabo Karabekian--first introduced in Breakfast of Champions--who wants only to be left alone at his Long Island estate with the secret he has locked in his potato barn. "A joyous, soaring fiction."--Atlanta Journ
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Mass Market Paperback, 287 pages
Published November 1988 by Dell Publishing (first published 1987)
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Alex Yeahhh... maybe. I wouldn't be surprised if Wes Anderson has cited Vonnegut as an inspiration somewhere. They have a similar sense of humor. They use…moreYeahhh... maybe. I wouldn't be surprised if Wes Anderson has cited Vonnegut as an inspiration somewhere. They have a similar sense of humor. They use understatement, brevity, absurdity, and create really interesting tragic characters. Their casts are similarly honest, depressed, humbled to the point of self-deprecation, and wonderfully odd. But here's where I see their main differences, and I'm looking at their overall bodies of work for this; and, though I'm not worthy, forgive my audacity, I'm going to refer to them on a first name basis. They probably wouldn't mind. Here it is: Kurt and Wes are both masters of their art, both perfected their styles, both brilliant and visionary. But I think Kurt's work has a depth Wes' does not. K's a veteran, as are most of his characters, and through their experience in war they offer a greater sardonic message, a deeper social comment; he has a darker perspective, longer shadows in a more dimensional work. So, to your point about uniforms: true, but for Kurt, it's not about costuming, it's about the humans within and how absurd it is that their clothes should make them different- as seen in "Now it's the Women's Turn." Wes, in his own right, has made his camera and sets an amazing narrator on its own, making the visual storytelling the core of his work. Kurt does something greater in his narratives by surpassing time and space through the narrator's dynamic place in their own timeline. I loved how in Bluebeard he snapped back and forth with the "back to the past:" and "back to the present:" lines. And my last note: Wes' work is most often described as "whimsical." It is. It's kind of cute. It marks his style. But Kurt! Oh, my hero, Kurt. He is never cute. If it seems he is, it's sarcastic. He's so good at his dark, black humor, so penetrating; it's like he's laughing at a knife in his leg, pulls it out of his "meat" and laughs harder about how terrible and ridiculous it is, and gives you the knife saying "try it. It hurts like hell, but it doesn't matter, nothing matters, everything matters, feel something!" He's writing and laughing from a deep moral center that's so appalled at the world for being what it is, from a human, empathetic place that's forgiving of humans but not forgiving of humanity. That's his core. He's not making light of, he's making dark of how f'd up we are; we see it in Breakfast of Champs with the "chemicals" and it's in Bluebeard with "I'd hate to be responsible for what my meat does." We are our single band of unwavering light. We cannot help being meat. So, anyway, I love both of these artists, and I totally see what you're saying, but Kurt has many more layers that make these two as comparable as mild salsa and gourmet seven-layer dip. (less)
Jerry Travis As with all of his works, they stand independent of each other, although there might be an occasional cameo, as it were, from characters living in…moreAs with all of his works, they stand independent of each other, although there might be an occasional cameo, as it were, from characters living in other works. Bluebeard is my favorite Vonnegut for one reason. There is a place where he uses a one-word sentence containing two letters, which says more than most writers can manage in a full chapter.(less)

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Arian
Mar 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος   Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο   Αμούν Arnum
Όλη η ουσία κρυμμένη στο μυστικό της κλειδαμπαρωμένης παλιάς παταταποθήκης.

Μέχρι να αποκαλυφθεί το μυστήριο του Κυανοπώγωνα μπαίνουμε σε μια ιστορία ζωής παράδοξη και συμβατή με παγιωμένες αντιπολεμικές απόψεις,τραυματικά βιώματα και την αυτοκαταστροφή της καλλιτεχνικής ψυχής στο βωμό της Τέχνης.

Ο αφηγητής μας είναι ένας μονόφθαλμος βετεράνος του Βπαγκοσμίου πολέμου,γεννημένος απο γονείς που επιβίωσαν στην γενοκτονία των Αρμενίων και έζησαν ως μετανάστες στην Αμερική.

Ο ίδιος ένας αποτυχημένος ζ
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Darwin8u
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
“What a fool I would have been to let self-respect interfere with my happiness!”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

description

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 bulli
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Rowena
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
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.
Cecily
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
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Joaquin
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Matthew Quann
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthew by: Josh Bragg
This was a lovely reintroduction to Vonnegut after a nearly eight year hiatus. I remember loving his style and staccato rhythm of his prose. Slaughterhouse-Five remains one of my favourite novels and was one of the first that made me think science fiction could be much more than explosions and cool scenes. Bluebeard, by contrast, is an entirely realist novel about the abstract expressionist art movement.

Although it's only a little bit about that too.

What it's really about is Rabo Karabekian, ag
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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
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Lisa
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this to read as a little birthday treat to myself and, true to form, Vonnegut didn't let me down.

Once apprentice to 'great man' and famous illustrator Dan Gregory before becoming one of the founders of an important abstract art movement, even if he was the least talented of the lot, Rabo Karabekian is now a septuagenarian content to live out his days in his well-off dead wife's family home, on the proceeds of his extremely valuable art collection and his only company his cook, her daugh
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մարիօ
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Բարի, հավես նախշուն Կուրտ Վոնեգուտը հայ սոցիոպատ նկարչի մասին։ Վոնեգուտի մյուս գրքերից տարբերվող գիրք էր, բայց իր ոճի մեջ գրված, հետաքրքիր, յուրօրինակ կերպարներով։ Վոնեգուտը սահուն կերպով դառնում ա սիրածս գրողներից մեկը:
Zorena
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, humor, 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
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Lindsay
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave-O
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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Guillermo
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Chris Dietzel
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Joel Lacivita
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lily
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vonnegut’s humor, cultural criticism and his anti-war messages were my favorite things about the book. Can’t really tell why but there is something different in his lines, nothing really happens but you feel engaged in the story. Before you even realize it suddenly becomes addictive. The flow of the book is fantastic. It’s not only funny and has magnificent satire but also the characters make you feel involved in them. I didn’t want to put it down and I am looking forward to reading more of his ...more
Adrineh
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Logan
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I checked this out from the library six years ago and stopped reading it because I got busy and forgot to keep reading because apparently I still had something resembling a life six years ago, but then the library wanted it back--they DEMANDED it back--and if you know the Chicago Public Library you know never to fuck with the Chicago Public Library if you'd like to keep both testicles and/or ovaries.

That said, over the last six years, it's fucking haunted me what ol' Rabo was keeping secret in t
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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.
Steve Lowe
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. His flaws were real. He wasn't unhinged or disaffected or insane like Billy Pilgrim or Dwayne Hoover. Or perhaps I just gravitate toward the struggling/failed artist type (love Kigore Trout as well...).
Eleanor Crook
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
L.
Apr 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Жор
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Easton Smith
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend just made fun of me for being a teenage boy because I love Vonnegut so much. Yes, there is something juvenile about him. I did first fall in love with Papa Vonnegut when I was fifteen. But, reading this book more than a decade later, I can say that he holds up as one of the most clever, moral, and compelling writers I have ever read.

This book takes on war, masculinity, depression, and the creative process. It is very readable, very funny, and very interesting. If that sounds like a si
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Tony
BLUEBEARD. (1987). Kurt Vonnegut. ***.
I felt as if I was sitting next to an old man on a train. He was asleep and leaning his head against the window jamb. He was drooling. Occasionally, he would kind of wake up and spout off what might have been happening in his dream, and then fall back to sleep. That’s the kind of non-connectedness Vonnegut provides in this novel. It is the story of Rabo Karabeckian, an artist of Armenian descent, who is relating his own life to us (the reader) as a series of
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Alana
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Nate
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Enas
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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billy's easy-goin...: I finished another book! 1 1 Nov 09, 2016 10:27AM  
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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
More about Kurt Vonnegut Jr....
“All right - I'll tell you what you did for me: you went for happy, silly, beautiful walks with me.” 334 likes
“It's the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: 'Good-bye.” 175 likes
More quotes…