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Paradise (American Literature Series) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: American Literature Series
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564784037
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564784032
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What is paradise? Not Adam's who had only one Eve, but Simon's who has three. Simon, a 53-year-old architect "with a tragic sense of brick," gives himself a year's sabbatical from his firm in Philadelphia and his ruinous marriage, takes an apartment in New York and by one of those everyday coincidences that makes urban life so zingy is moved in on by not one, not two, but three beautiful fashion models so impossibly young they don't know the name Benny Goodman or the century of World War II. They do know all manner of games to add interest to rainy mornings, however. A "male fantasy" is what the implausibly articulate and well-read ladies call the arrangement, and they tell Simon he's living in "hog heaven." The slight novel, which includes random meditations on a variety of matters, unfolds mainly in dialogue and one-liners, many of them actually in Q & A form. At times, Barthelme strains for his gags and comic effects, and jokes fall flat or topple into whimsy; but it is amazing how often and well the wit comes off. What is even more amazing is that this odd foursome, this "loving quartet," constitutes a kind of family. When the women leave to pick up the frayed threads of their lives, Simon is forlorn, inconsolable, a desolate "uncle-figure," as one of them calls him. By the end of the book, we too miss them. Best known for his short stories (nine books of them so far), Barthelme has written two earlier novelsThe Dead Father in 1975 and Snow White in 1967. First serial to Esquire.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A middle-aged architect on sabbatical brings home three lovely young lingerie models with no place to stay. Self-mocking, estranged from his wife and daughter, haunted by dreams and memories, Simon begins to live a male fantasy of domestic bliss the women call "hog heaven." They share him sexually and use his apartment as a way station for their inevitable departure. Their snappy, contrapuntal dialogue and coltish ways create for Simon a lively and sensual vision of paradise. The images are pure Barthelme: a wrinkled red bra hangs "like a cut throat" in the shower; a policeman enters "the felon-thick night"; the furniture of paradise is "knoll, basically." A curiously innocent, freewheeling erotic romp, tinged with sadness as much as celebration. Mary Soete, San Diego P.L., Cal .
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Paradise", although out of print, is worth the search. Barthelme's neurotically postmodern and pre-millenial prose never fails to astonish in its originality. The completely unlikely tale of 53 year old Simon, an architect from Philadelphia, and his three concubines is made realistic through terrific dialogue and bang-on sarcastic humour. If you enjoy authors like Martin Amis or Russell Banks, "Paradise" is worth the trip to the library--or the wait until it is back in print.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Howard Paul Burgess on February 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
PARADISE was worth reading to the end, but I could hardly say there was any narrative drive to it. It's the story of an architect who's taking a year off, which he spends in a large apartment in New York City. Three young women (two blonds, one brunette) move in with him.

This has the makings of a dinner theater comedy, but it's not funny. The characters are articulate, but not terribly interesting. Imagine an episode of Seinfeld with no laughs, and that pretty well sums it up.

Sometimes the women spout feminist rhetoric. In some chapters Barthelme tosses in a few four letter words to spice up things. Occasionally we see intimate moments between the architect and the young lady which echo the Playboy philosophy.

Barthelme was a talented writer, but he seemed to be writing to get the approval of the New York literati. PARADISE is out of print. No great loss.
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