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The Development Paperback – Bargain Price, October 18, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Sad to think that this might well be the last work from Barth, who now is 78 (although in a sense, as Barth I think would concur, what is sad about the inevitable?). THE DEVELOPMENT may not be a major work of American fiction, on the plane of "The Sot-Weed Factor" or "Lost in the Funhouse", but it still is worthwhile. As odd as it might seem to say about a work that constantly flirts with the Grim Reaper, I thoroughly enjoyed THE DEVELOPMENT.
Barth pays great attention to structure in this collection. Not only is the narrative structure of each story closely controlled, but the structure of Heron Bay Estates is also meticulously described and upheld. Each sub-neighborhood contains a particular style of house and a specific type of inhabitant, and Barth remains faithful, sometimes annoyingly so, to this structure throughout.
Bath's playful writing style adds a substantial amount of levity to these often dark stories, though Barth's narrative stunts are occasionally more frustrating than satisfying. In one case, Barth simply stops a story in the middle of the action, "pull[ing] its narrative plug before somebody gets hurt." Only someone with a reputation as well-established as Barth's can get away with such an escape. Fortunately, other fully-formed stories (of which "Toga Party" is the best) round out this interesting collection.
Barth writes with great dashes of color but his characters take on as much interest as a cocktail party conversation, about which one story here is devoted. The author's narrative style lacks force, giving this cast little chance for empathy. Indeed, when the fate of one couple lies hanging in the balance early on and is then resolved, I was more than happy to see these two largely disappear.
The ostensible purpose of a community with gates is to keep outsiders out, but Barth clearly convinces us that the truer reason is to keep its residents inside...and allow them to become more insular. Unfortunately, "The Development" doesn't live up to the expectations of what a collection of people living in this type of arrangement could achieve on the fictitious page.
I'm usually a fan of science fiction and of stories with things blowing up and people getting into gunfights, etc. "The Development" contains stories more or less about me and my husband and the life we have shared with all of its ups and downs. Every story rang true but had its own quirky twist that appealed to my appreciation of odd things.
I read this on a Kindle. I do not know if the paper versions of the book had the same editing problems, but there were so many places where "off" was spelled "of." Considering Barth's interesting and literary writing style, it is possible, but I do not think so, that he intended "of" to be used where "off" is the only word that would make sense. There were other errors as well, but do not recall those.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
John Barth's The Development brings together a number of stories in a manner reminiscent of Sherwood Anderson's Winesboro, Ohio, Boccaccio's Decameron, and Melville's Moby Dick. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Neil Shephard
I was somewhat disappointed after being a serious John Barth reader for many years.Published 8 months ago by Mr. Rick Raio
An evocation of what it may mean to be the aging fortunate generation facing The End.
Wait, that's not fair to the interest John Barth draws out as one reads. Read more
In a late work of fiction that demonstrates the power of John Barth's comedic, satirical prose, "The Development" is a novel composed of nine short stories set within a gated... Read morePublished on January 16, 2014 by John Kwok
What a nightmare.
The Development is collection of short stories about a certain gated housing community on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Chesepeak Bay. Read more
I got this book for a class I took last semester. It's alright. Not sure if it'd be something I would buy just to buy but it's not horrible.Published on May 21, 2013 by Megan M
began as a good story, became bizarre and ridiculous with every turning page. I would not recommend this book and did not finish itPublished on March 30, 2013 by Barbara