beware, there be spoilers: Bluebeard

I wrote a few weeks ago about the myth of getting even. And though I had set my 2018 reading project as the complete Vonnegut, I am behind. But I’ve given myself an extension until the end of June and I think I might make it.

Bluebeard is a book about modern art and an enjoyable read. Looking back, and I still have two novels to go, along with the short stories and the non-fiction writings, hence the extension until the end of June, looking back, one of the things I most enjoy about Vonnegut are his characters.

Rabo Karabekian, the narrator of Bluebeard, is a case in point. I found him to be a beautifully drawn character, Vonnegut make use again of some of his World War II experiences in setting the character. The delightfully named Circe Berman, perhaps more than Rabo himself, is someone I could very enjoyably spend an evening talking with.

This is not intended as a formal critique of Vonnegut and his writing, but I do find it interesting the extent to which he uses parts of his own experience. It shines forth in a way that I find illuminating, a lamp on a dark night. I haven’t explored the critical literature on Vonnegut, and so I don’t know what the current view is of Vonnegut as writer, but I am still finding him very entertaining.

I think one reason, though, that I hit the pause button earlier this year, though the pause was more of an emergent process amidst everything else, was that however entertaining a writer, I found it difficult to keep reading the one author.

Vonnegut has a clear style, and I will admit that over time and through reading, I found that style a bit swaddling, if that makes any sense. But having taken the break, I’m back to the last few novels and I’m also working my way through the short stories.

I’ll write more about them later, but I find among the short stories that I’m encountering some old friends, stories I remember more or less, but that I’d forgotten were Vonnegut’s. The Report on the Barnhouse Effect is a particular favorite of mine, and I hadn’t realized until a few minutes ago that it was his first published story.

And then the mind wanders into speculation. I don’t know the influences that one story, read early in one’s life, has on the other stories one wants to tell. I can see, as I sit down and plan or sit down and write, echoes of stories I’ve read wanting to be a part of what I’m writing, as though the ideas themselves feel they still have more to give.

Ultimately, I suspect, this all gets back to the discussion of where ideas come from, and beyond this, how many variations on a theme are possible. Infinitely many, I suspect, or at least a number large enough to be virtually infinite.

~ by Jim Anderson on 6 May 2019.

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