Bluebeard, Kurt Vonnegut

I’m beginning to realize that one day I’ll run out of Kurt Vonnegut to read. I’m not prepared for that.

It’s been a little while since I read one of his novels; the last few Vonneguts I’ve read have been short story collections and essays. I’d forgotten, a bit, how masterful he was at long-form stuff. Bluebeard is a later-career thing, published in 1987. While I love the early stuff, Vonnegut’s later work (especially his novels) is where he got really crazy. I’ve said this before, but there’s this point in his writing when you know he was aware he had carte blanche to do whatever and get away with it, and he did that. This novel isn’t quite as holy-shit-what’s-going-on as Timequake, but he still messes with you.

This is the autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, an Armenian abstract expressionist and World War 2 veteran. The storytelling is anything but linear. Vonnegut pulls you back and forth in time, weaving real folks (Jackson Pollock makes an appearance) with folks like the widow Berman and Paul Slazinger, all around the secret of what Rabo Karabekian keeps hidden in his barn. Like a lot of Vonnegut, this book is about the war without being about the war. It’s not his best novel by any means, but I will never complain about a serviceable Vonnegut, which this is in spades.

Books read: 25



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