I read “Bluebeard” because Vonnegut is my daughter’s favorite author, this is her favorite of his, and I am working my way through her library. I was genuinely surprised at how very much I liked it.
Framed as an autobiography, writer Rabo Karabekian, apologizes to the reader: “I promised you an autobiography, but something went wrong in the kitchen…” He describes himself as a museum guard who answers questions from visitors coming to see his priceless collected art.
Circe Berman, a woman living near Karabekian instigates the story by saying “Tell me how your parents died.” He tells her and one thing leads to another. Soon enough she has moved in with him and his houseguest Paul Slazinger, a fellow artist. She is constantly asking him questions, disrespects his design choices and actively dislikes his modern art. She is a force to be reckoned with and the only place that is off-limits to her is the potato barn where Karabekian is storing some of his own work.
Karabekian’s story is one of a first generation American, child of immigrants, an artist’s apprentice, eventual artist himself, a soldier, failed husband and father, and eventual genius.
I can’t tell the tale as Vonnegut does, and why would I try, but the winding path leading to the eventual unveiling of Karabekian’s masterpiece was at turns funny, heartbreaking, and eventually breathtakingly beautiful. This is not something I expect from Vonnegut. I shed tears as I read the final pages, and so far this is by a mile my favorite of his.
Three words that describe this book: Funny, wry, satirical
You might want to pick this book up if: You like your humor to be on the serious side.
This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year.