Kurt Vonnegut's black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America's attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him as "a true artist" (The New York Times) with Cat's Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, "one of the best living American writers." Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.
Vonnegut rounds up several familiar themes and character types for his 13th novel: genocide, the surreality of the modern world, fluid interplay of the past and present, and the less-than-heroic figure taking center stage to tell his story. Here he elevates to narrator a minor character from Breakfast of Champions , wounded World War II veteran and abstract painter Rabo Karabekian. At the urging of enchantress-as-bully Circe Berman, Karabekian writes his ``hoax autobiography.'' Vonnegut uses the tale to satirize art movements and the art-as-investment mind-set and to explore the shifting shape of reality. Although not among his best novels, Bluebeard is a good one and features liberal doses of his off-balance humor. Recommended. A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
"Ranks with Vonnegut's best and goes one step beyond . . . joyous, soaring fiction."--The Atlanta Journal and Constitution "Vonnegut is at his edifying best."--The Philadelphia Inquirer "The quicksilver mind of Vonnegut is at it again. . . . He displays all his talents--satire, irony, ridicule, slapstick, and even a shaggy dog story of epic proportions."--The Cincinnati Post "[Kurt Vonnegut is] a voice you can trust to keep poking holes in the social fabric."--San Francisco Chronicle "It has the qualities of classic Bosch and Slaughterhouse Vonnegut. . . . Bluebeard is uncommonly feisty."--USA Today "Is Bluebeard good? Yes! . . . This is vintage Vonnegut--good wine from his best grapes."--The Detroit News "A joyride . . . Vonnegut is more fascinated and puzzled than angered by the human stupidities and contradictions he discerns so keenly. So hop in his rumble seat. As you whiz along, what you observe may provide some new perspectives."--Kansas City Star
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 Breakfast of Champions. At 71, Karabekian is leading an oyster's life, albeit in an East Hampton mansion stocked with modern masterpieces. Most of the friends with whom he launched the Abstract Expressionist movement have died, as has his wife of many years; his faith in his artistic ability has vanished as well. It remains for an irritant in the form of a determined younger woman to oust his customary melancholy. Circe Berman is an author of teenage fiction with ``relevant'' themes and a rearranger of Karabekian's home and creative energies. She soon has him writing his memoirs, which he titles Bluebeard; and it is a pearl of a book. Karabekian recalls his parents' exodus to California from Turkish Armenia following the first mass murder of what will become ``the genocide century,'' his introduction to both art and sex during an apprenticeship with a mad New York illustrator, Gregory, and his mistress, Marilee, the loss of his eye and a few more illusions in World War II and his subsequent role as an artist manque. Like lost lives, Karabekian's is a constant blending of regret and hope but Vonnegut has graced it with a touching denouement that suggests that even in our own particular kingdom of the blind, a one-eyed man can be king. (October)