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In this, the most intimate of Vonnegut’s 13 novels, he brings back the erstwhile American painter Rabo Karabekian, a one-eyed man” who played a minor role in . Based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard is the fictional autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, a one-eyed former artist of the Abstract Expressionist era. Bluebeard, which came out in , was one of Vonnegut’s last proper novels. Though it is different in style than his earlier works, it is a very.

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My introduction to Vonnegut were what are considered to be the misfires or the duds. I remembered the plot—old Armenian man tells his life before revealing his masterwork—but not the specifics, and so I grabbed it off the shelf.

On Bluebeard | this cage is worms

The novel tells the story of Rabo Karebekian, the son of Armenian immigrants. His parents survived a genocide before moving to the United States, and they press the Bouebeard dream into Rabo at every opportunity.

Blueebeard pursue this dream, his sends a letter to Dan Gregory, a fictional version of American representational masters like Norman Rockwell. He moves to New York, begins to learn from Gregory, and eventually goes to and returns from the second World War.

Postwar, he becomes an important member in the Abstract Expressionist school of painters, alongside real painter Jackson Pollock and fictional painter Terry Kitchen. These painters die off, often through suicide.

Bluebeard – IMDb

Eventually, Rabo is an old man with a home that contains the most extensive and expensive collection of Abstract Vonnegt paintings in the world. His wife passes away, and out of grief he paints a massive scene of the final moments of World War II—a giant valley full of people released from camps, armies, and the European countryside.


Then, at the behest of a widow from down the beach named Circe Berman, he begins to write his autobiography. It is a novel about Turkey, the United States, Europe, painting, the genre of autobiography, and the various artistic and cultural revolutions of the 20th century.

Kitchen was drunk then, as he often was, and his father had come for the umpteenth time to beg him to get treatment for his alcoholism. It can never be proved, but that shot had to be intended as a gesture. When Kitchen saw that he had actually gunned down his father, with a bullet in the should, it turned out, nothing would do but that Kitchen put the pistol barrel in his own mouth and kill himself. Birth and death were even on that old piece of beaverboard Terry Kitchen sprayed seemingly at random so long ago.

In some sense, they were attempting to deal with bluebeagd massive wound, a schism and time and experience ripped in the fabric of the social by two back-to-back world wars.

Two-thirds of the way through the novel, the narrator lets us in on a secret: Each strip was meant to represent a soul, and each painting was a story.

This drives the postwar blubeeard home even more explicitly: There is no ground, and disenfranchised, they fell to the ground as discarded trash. Terribly disconcerting as a metaphor, for sure. Slazinger claims to have learned from history that most people cannot open their minds to new ideas unless a mind-opening team with a peculiar membership goes to work on them Otherwise, life vonnefut go on exactly as before, no matter how painful, unrealistic, unjust, ludicrous, or downright dumb that life may be.


Inside of that team, we can most easily identify with Rabo Karebekian and Terry Kitchen. The only one we get any kind of interiority of is Rabo, of course. These random assortments of tape and paint were blufbeard, and those stories have meaning for an observer, but they ultimately degrade into nothing.

There are things, and those things are beautiful for a while, but nothing can stay. He sprays paint on nluebeard and he drinks. There is no rhyme or reason to it. There are no stories.


The roiling void will make an infinite number of Terry Kitchen; every Rabo Bpuebeard will be ground to dust by time. It was an accident. And much earlier in the novel: Vonnfgut entry was posted in Books and tagged abstract expressionistsbluebeardkurt vonnegutterry kitchen.

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