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Sixty Stories (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 30, 2003
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"Donald Barthelme may have influenced the short story in his time as much as Hemingway and O' Hara did in theirs." —The New York Times
"The delight he offers to readers is beyond question, his originality is unmatched." —Los Angeles Times
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Top Customer Reviews
Another great thing about both Barthelme's stories and "American Beauty" is that when a narrative stradles that border between reality and parody, the characters get away with making the most straightforward thematic statements. In "The Seargent," a story about a middle aged man who somehow finds himself stuck in the army again, the narrator keeps repeating, "This is all a mistake. I'm not supposed to be here," etc. "Of course I deserve this." If the protagonist of a realistic, mid-life crisis story made these statements it would be interpreted as too obvious. Suspension of disbelief might be violated. When the situation is absurd, however, the characters can be beautifully direct.Read more ›
All that said, I feel I should qualify this review by saying that Barthelme is rarely easy reading. His narratives are so remarkably compact and so tightly wound that reading one straight through is something quite akin to venturing through an underwater cave, not coming up for air until the very end. It can be a difficuly experience, requiring intense concentration but the payoff is very worth the effort.
--Yes on both counts. "60 Stories" is a generous sampling of Bartheleme's work. You'll certainly discover whether he's to your liking or not based on what you're offered here. Because it bears saying that these stories are certainly not going to be everyone's cup of blue rooibos, to coin a phrase.
--How so? Why not?
--They aren't what most people would call "traditional" stories. It's somewhat inaccurate to call them "experimental" at this point since so many years have elapsed since they were written and published, so many years since the author died, and Barthelme's influence has been shaping literary experiments ever since, but a stunning number of readers still expect the short story to adhere to conventions established two or three centuries ago. I'd go back even further but the fact is that Barthelme's stories actually employ the conventions of what might be called the "original" short stories--fairy tales, myths, dreams, visions, and the like.
--In other words, they're non-linear, ambiguous, full of fantastic and illogical occurences.
--Yes, to name just a few. What's continually interesting about Barthelme is that every story--well, practically every story--is different in technique from the others. He attempts to find a mode of expression that suits what he wants to say and that changes from story to story. A hammer for a nail, a screwdriver for a screw. But more often, he invents new tools altogether. His stories are invented tools. So you never know quite what to expect when you begin a new story. A collection of Barthelme's stories is not like a box of saltine crackers. It's not even like a box of chocolates.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book changed my life. It has made me a better writer and a happier reader.Published 3 days ago by Andrew Brashaw
A big anthology was always going to be a publishing challenge for a master miniaturist. The longer pieces here feel forced, repetitive (without consolatory cadence), smacking of... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Peter Jakobsen
If you like real brainy stories then there is no better collection. I enjoyed some of the stories immensely, particularly The King Of Jazz and The School, but others were too smart... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Riley James
This is what I would call "experimental" literature. I've never found another author capable of writing in such a unique, inventive manner! Read morePublished 21 months ago by Elizabeth