|Short Description||Fictional autobiography of a fictional Armenian man by a famous American author, with good information on the Armenian Genocide.|
|No. of Pages||336|
|Category||Genocide, Literature & Fiction|
Bluebeard The Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916-1988) is a 1987 fictional novel by best-selling author Kurt Vonnegut. It is told as a first person narrative and describes the late years of fictional Abstract Expressionist painter Rabo Karabekian, who first appeared, rather briefly, in Breakfast of Champions. Circumstances of the novel bear rough resemblance to the fairy tale of Bluebeard popularized by Charles Perrault. Karabekian mentions this relationship several times during the novel.
At the opening of the book, the narrator, Rabo Karabekian apologizes to the arriving guests: "I promised you an autobiography, but something went wrong in the kitchen..." He describes himself as a museum guard, who answers questions to visitors coming to see his priceless collected art. He shares the lonely home with his live-in servants and Paul Slazinger, a wounded World War II veteran.
One afternoon, Circe Berman wanders onto Karabekian's private beach. When he reaches out to greet her, she catches him by surprise with the forward statement "Tell me how your parents died." He tells her the story and proceeds to invite her back to his home for a drink. After a drink and supper, Karabekian invites her to stay with him, as Slazinger does. After time, he finds her charm "manipulative," as she typically gets her way. Mrs. Berman does not respect his abstract art collection, including works by Jackson Pollock. She explores every inch of Karabekian's home, constantly asking him questions. The only place off limits to her is the potato barn.
The potato barn is the home of Karabekian's studio and holds his "secret". It has no windows, and Karabekian has gone through the trouble of nailing one end shut and immobilizing the other with six padlocks. The secret of the potato barn has enticed collectors to make outrageous offers and to raise suspicions of stolen masterpieces. It is to remain locked until after Karabekian passes away.
Characters in "Bluebeard"
- Rabo Karabekian — Karabekian is a 71 year old, one eyed, Armenian immigrant painter. He lives in 19-room house on the waterfront of East Hampton, Long Island, which he inherited from his second wife Edith.
- Circe Berman - Circe selects Karabekian's home as a place to research and write about working-class adolescents living with multimillionaires. She is a well published novelist under the pen name "Polly Madison."
- Paul Slazinger - Slazinger is a poor, wounded World War II veteran. Though he owns his own home, he stays with Karabekian and eats from his kitchen. He refuses permanent residence on the grounds that "he can only write at home." He has had 11 novels published, but is not in the league of Circe Berman.
- Dan Gregory - Karabekian became "Gregorian's" apprentice at the age of 17. A magazine article estimated him to be the highest paid artist in American history.
- Marilee Kemp - Marilee was Dan Gregory's mistress, who persuaded Gregory to take Karabekian as his apprentice.
- Edith Taft - Edith was Karabekian's second wife of 20 years.
- Dorothy Roy - Dorothy is Karabekian's first wife. She left with their 2 boys, Terry and Henri.
- Rabo's Parents - Karabekian's parents were survivors of the Armenian genocide.
- Allison White - She is Karabekian's live-in cook, though he never refers to her as anything besides that. She has a daughter Celeste, who also lives with them.