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 that is 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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"Still as great as I remember"
Great book and great performance. I was wondering if it would hold up after 20 years and it did and the performance even made it better.
"NY Artists I Have Known"
An easy, very humorous read. They sound like caricatures, but it's a fairly realistic portrait of some artists I've known from the 50's and 60's era NYC, and the sometimes ridiculous aesthetic battles that were fought, occasionally with fists, in downtown bars. Big men with huge egos, when the worst insult you could use was to call someone an 'illustrator.' Mr. Vonnegut was obviously well acquainted with some of them, their arguments and their world.
"Bluebeard crushed me."
I've read Slaughterhouse-Five, The Sirens of Titan, and Cat's Cradle. I really liked all of them, however, Bluebeard is by far my favorite Vonnegut thus far: loved it. Amazing story, amazing Narrator.
"A great story of a fractured soul."
Was a good story of a man who could not come to terms with who he is. its not the words spoken by which he is defined as much as he attempted to make him self so shallow it was the background of a man who opened his home and his life to a cast of strangers over time his wanting to not care but none the less caring enough to shelter, feed, and look after others. being so terribly humble in thinking his failure in art was who he is and not seeing the great love of human that he is. his final painting giving homage to all those from all walks of life finding a home in his happy valley. that despite what they were he loved them all enough to paint them with story and all.
"A unique and entertaining perspective on the art of art and life"
An absolutely original and different take on life, war and unpredictable friendship. So engaging and modestly and slyly profoubd
"My first Kurt Vonnegurt book"
I've had this book on my "to read" list for so long that I forgot my motivation. I know that Kurt Vonnegurt is a famous author, but I had no idea of what to expect. It was a good story, and I was only disappointed by the fact that I found out that many of his books are loosely tied together, and this is one of his later books. Still it was weird reading an autobiography of a fictional person. Yet, when you think about it, all fictions are somewhat autobiographical in a way.
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