Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut was first published in 1987 and is the hoax autobiography of Rabo Karabekian. This novel is laced with many parallels to Vonnegut’s own life. Much more so than his other novels as they all include aspects, either references or core experiences, from his personal history. Regardless of any level of direct association between author and text, this book was fun to read because it focuses on a changing history within America (and the world) mostly around art, war, and the changing of generations and what is remaining, fading, or gaining the spotlight of world events.
This novel centers around Rabo Karabekian, an aging artist and World War II vet, who has a secret locked away in his potato barn on Long Island. Along comes a younger, recently widowed, woman who invites herself to stay in his home and badgers him to tell her his life story. The result is in effect the entirety of this novel.
Circe Berman, the widow in question, is tiresome at times with her efforts to uproot Rabo’s contentment with (or resignation to) the life he has led. I doubt anyone would really have put up with some of her behaviors, but her own vitality re-ignites the old man’s interests in life to the point he is no longer content just sitting around and waiting to die. This gives us our story and one which I recommend because Vonnegut again gives a narrative that provides a unique perspective of what life means on this small world and how we live together within it.
The celebrities of today will fade and new popular artists and persons will emerge. Each generation seems to have their own heroes and time is unrelenting. Rabo Karabekian was fine thinking he was a forgotten artist who possibly made it into a footnote of history. He had seen much change in the world and most of his friends were gone. His perspective of seeing a world that has somehow already moved on from such a major event as World War II is both incredulous and sorrowful.
Unfortunately, the technologies of today almost make it seem like newsworthy events are cycling through the front page faster and faster than ever before. The world has forgotten the realities of the World Wars and unfortunately quickly forgets the realities of yesterday leaving us no time to mourn or laugh or even ponder the moments that are making up our lives.
So, dear reader, I hope you remember to slow down and enjoy the life you have. Read books that make you feel, think, wonder, and learn. Read books that give you new perspectives. The world is rich with all types of experiences. Go forth and enjoy the time you have.