Regular price: $28.94

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – love a book or swap it for free
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $16.45/month
OR
In Basket

Publisher's Summary

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, which are 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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • 28-12-2017

Kurt Vonnegut explores the arts

"What a fool I would have been to let self-respect interfere with my happiness!"
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

A pseudo memoir of Rabo Karabekian a minor Abstract Expressionist whose art literally disappeared (thanks to a poor choice in paints). It is hard to relay what the book essentially is, but obviously it is an autobiography of an almost loner, a hermit with a roommate. He lives in his big house in the Hamptons among the art he bought cheap (Rothkos, Pollocks, etc) years ago. He is being bullied into writing his memoirs by Polly Madison, a writer of cheap blockbuster novels. At its heart, this novel is Vonnegut working his way through some of his previous big themes (war, isolation, humanism, pacifism) along with explorations of art, commerce, &c.

This isn't one of his better novels, but is firmly in the middle of the pack. I personally wish Vonnegut spent more time playing with the artistic canvas, but the sections he spent dealing with Rabo apprenticing under Dan Gregory (I get a N.C. Wyeth or Howard Pyle vibe), a very popular illustrator, is worth the entire cost of reading anything clunky in some of the other sections.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-02-2018

I expected Vonnegut to be a difficult read

Some reviewers said this wasn't his best book. That may very well be the case but I certainly enjoyed it. Now I'm anxious to find out how one of his better books will read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barnaby
  • 07-08-2017

Masterful

A profoundly american experience of wit and solidarity with the world at large, history at large. The best critique of mid century art on record.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nick
  • 28-08-2015

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeff Labrack
  • 06-08-2018

One of Vonnegut's best.

This book is one of my favorite Vonnegut books. Mark Bramhall gave a great narration. If you like Vonnegut or enjoyed one of his other books, be sure to check this one out.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Brian Hazzard
  • 06-08-2018

More great Vonnegut

This is not my favorite Kurt Vonnegut story, nor is it in my top 5... but it was still wonderful. It is also the closest Kurt ever comes to writing women as interesting characters... so that’s great.

The narration was perfectly done.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nick Garcia
  • 24-07-2018

A masculine endorsement of feminism

I have listened to this novel three times in the past year. such a wonderland of character and depth. the voicework is amazing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Hannah
  • 20-01-2018

A short, sad, but beautiful narrative

A gorgeous exploration into the definition of failure and success. Told from the point of view of a self-titled failure.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 19-01-2018

One of the best narrator performances

Pretty standard Vonnegut (fun, provocative, beautifully written, etc) but I felt that it didn't come together in the end. But wow the narrator was amazing, he did a phenomenal job conveying emotion and tone, and especially with all sorts of subtle accents.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 04-01-2018

LOVED THIS BOOK!!

this book includes some of the best articulations describing quality art and what gives a painting soul.