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Bluebeard: A Novel (Delta Fiction) Paperback – September 8, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 168 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

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
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“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

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist. ”—Time
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Product Details

  • Series: Delta Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (September 8, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038533351X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385333511
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Battaglia on July 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read lots of Vonnegut and frankly I thought this was one of his lesser works. Boy, was I wrong. Here we have Vonnegut at his most focused on a long time, tearing off page after page that will make you laugh and stop and think at the same time. The story is basically the autobiography of an obscure artist character in Breakfast of Champions, but here he turns Rabo into someone you might think is real, so does his humor and pain cascade off the page. He bounces back and forth between his past and his present at his mansion where he just wants to be left alone, in the great Vonnegut tradition (and he doesn't need time travel this time out), comparing and contrasting the worst moments of his life with the best and trying to figure out what it all means. To me, this is one of Vonnegut's most human novels, his sense of satire and wit are still apparent and sharp but the entire story isn't devoted to Vonnegut making some barbed point about us and society as a whole, it's there but there's more time put into having get to know Rabo has someone who might live down the street from us. I devoured this book and found myself satisified, even the long anticipated secret of what lies in the potato barn was well worth the suspense (and it really is), this is the most fun I've had with a Vonnegut book in long time. Probably one of his more obscure works, it deserves to be read along with his other classics. It may not reach those peaks but it comes darn close.
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By Dan on August 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
5 stars for the Vonnegut book. 1 star for the Kindle edition.

This Kindle book is absolutely loaded with typos from poorly scanned and edited OCR. They must have had an unpaid intern take care of it. It goes to show me just how little the publishers care about ebooks, and how they'd like to slow demand for what they think they can't get insane profits from. It wouldn't surprise me if they purposely do a horrible job with every ebook just to get people running back to their precious overpriced paperbacks and hardcovers.

Examples of typos:

"Tor what?"

He, cheat and steal

"J already have," she said.

Talk about realism]

--The author wrote "realism!" in italics so the OCR thinks an italics exclamation point is a bracket. Nobody changed it. How could they miss this stuff? It's not just misspellings but also lack of commas, quotation marks, and so on. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't on every couple of pages. The first few are no problem, nobody's perfect. But once they become a distraction, it really takes away from the reading experience.

The should at the very least have some respect for the late Mr Vonnegut and have an editor do a once over.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rabo Karabekian was first introduced in "Breakfast of Champions", a minor character in a surreal story. Here he gets the full treatment, and comes off as another one of those great curmudgeon characters. Only in the hands of Vonnegut, he becomes much more. He is crotchety, bitter, cynical, and several steps from senility. But he still has a wonderful memory for his past, and Vonnegut creates for him a fictional autobiography that's fascinating and endearing. And a laugh riot.
Rabo has one eye. Rabo was an artist of astounding technical talent, yet helped form the Abstract Expressionist movement (along with his friends the fictional Terry Kitchen and the very real Jackson Pollock). Rabo has seen the best talents of his generation succumb to suicide and self-destruction, yet he is still kicking and screaming at 71. Rabo (guided by Vonnegut) is in the process of pouring his life onto the page, with the encouragement of a mysterious woman who has moved into his home.
Vonnegut's greatest accomplishment in the book is the building up of the surprise ending (What the heck is in the barn?) to the point where something astounding should happen, and then drawing up a scene where something astounding happens. It all lives up to the hype, which is a tough thing to do. But I never doubted my man Kurt for a second. He is one of my favourite writers -- for his pointed humour and his deceptively simple prose -- and this is one of his best books. He has managed to create a commentary on the history of war, art, Europe, America, and literature in the twentieth century, by gently leading the reader through a guided tour of one man's life.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Again, Vonnegut has come up with a work of literature that leaves the reader (or at least me) breathless and hungry for more of his brilliant work. In all honesty, the book did lose something partway through, and right up until the end I would have rated it only about a 3-1/2. But the ending of this book (as with Mother Night and other Vonnegut novels) was worth the entire book. The secret in the potato barn was incredible; it was everything I'd thought it would be, and more.
A superb book, definitely worth reading. It also made me realize (since this was one of the first Vonnegut books I'd read) how interconnected his books really are; Rabo dates back to "Breakfast of Champions," where the reader is almost compelled to dislike him. However, during the course of this book, not only did I end up liking Rabo, I found myself cheering for him, and even understanding him. A must-read for any Vonnegut fan, and even for those who don't have a Vonnegut fetish like I do. Brilliant.
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