Monday, April 29, 2013

8/50: Bluebeard

Bluebeard, by Kurt Vonnegut
5/5 stars
This is my 8th book in Rex & Jake's 50-Book Reading Challenge,
which Rex leads 10-8. Full list can be found here.

I've always thought of The Great Gatsby as "The Great American Novel" because it moves and shakes like America. It has the sunsets of dreams in the background, with the hopes and aspirations in the foreground, all meandering like specters among big parties and small conversations.

However, if it were up to me, I'd deem Kurt Vonnegut "The Great American Author" because he's always been able to explain Americans in a profound and understandable lecture while still making jokes. He's sincere and heartbreaking and funny and philosophical all in one paragraph, which is why his books are almost stupefying. They floor me every single time. He's always right. He's right about how America should be. He's right about how people should be. He's right about how everything should be.

And yet he can observe the mistakes, articulate the wrongdoing of mankind, and point out what mattered and why in the great messy history of modern humans. He's what all writers strive to be without any of the ego problems or the stuffy choice of words. He is what people desperately need: a moral compass that is astute and accessible.

There's a sense of beauty and importance to what he says, and he writes like it'll count and make a difference, though it has the humility and silliness of a dinner party comment. He's grateful for what he has and can do, not just for himself, but for humanity, and it shines through in his writing. His words glow when they finally settle somewhere behind your eyes.

Bluebeard is a flawless book. It takes on so much while keeping the narrative short in scope. It never goes astray, as it calmly delivers the scattered breadth of a great artist's life. It gives you the gold along with the gags, and you can't believe how much fun it is, observing the long life of a man who's never existed. It's the fictional autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, now in the sparkling twilight of life, all with his greatest work out in the potato barn that he won't let anyone see. A wild female writer many decades his junior crashes with him and stirs up memories and portraits of reflection come to be his book.

It was goddamn supreme.

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