About “Bluebeard”

I just finished re-reading Kurt Vonnegut’s 1987 novel “Bluebeard,” and it reminds me of an uncanny experience I had the first time I read it, more than ten years ago. At several points throughout the text, reference is made to “Home Sweet Home Moving and Storage,” a company I assumed was fictitious. In fact, this presumably fictitious company is mentioned five different times, which seems to qualify it as a motif.

At a couple key points, Vonnegut also implies, wryly, that coincidences may not simply be random occurrences. Thus, in Chapter 23, we read: “What a coincidence! But that is all it is. One mustn’t take such things too seriously.”

Shortly after this, in Chapter 27, we find: “We have here another coincidence, which superstitious persons would no doubt take seriously… One would soon go mad if one took such coincidences seriously. One might be led to suspect that there were all sorts of things going on in the Universe which he or she did not thoroughly understand.”

So: “Home Sweet Home Moving and Storage” and coincidences. Got that?

I read the second half of “Bluebeard” in one straight shot, very late at night. When I was through, I wandered into my kitchen, and drank a tall, cold glass of water. Then I rested my forearm against my refrigerator, leaned my head against it, and closed my eyes for a minute or so in order to rest them and allow the climax of the novel to sink in. When I opened my eyes I was staring at these words, stuck to the front of my refrigerator: “Home Sweet Home Moving and Storage.” My hair stood on end.

The explanation is this: My roommate had, earlier that day, retrieved the mail, which included, as it usually does, a cornucopia of junk in the form of advertisements. One of these was from Home Sweet Home Moving and Storage, and happened to include a refrigerator magnet. Rightly reasoning that a magnet is a magnet, after all, she peeled it from its backing and stuck it to the refrigerator.

That magnet is still on my refrigerator today, even after numerous moves (none of which, by the way, involved Home Sweet Home Moving and Storage). But, after all, one mustn’t take such things too seriously.

A single golf clap? Or a long standing ovation?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.