From Publishers Weekly
Barthelme telegraphs his bereaved amusement at a half-mad world in this posthumous miscellany. With mischievous wit, he deftly satirizes journalistic cliches, Playboy bunnies, Watergate miscreants, country music, the California mindset, "that Cosmopolitan girl" and Carlos Castaneda. He unleashes curmudgeonly sentiments about Thanksgiving, Ed Sullivan and government. He turns T. S. Eliot's Waste Land into a Broadway musical, spins futurist fantasies and rewrites the Batman saga. Much of this is vintage Barthelme. Illustrated stories and collages, which deconstruct social conventions with surreal humor and antique charm, are reminiscent of Edward Gorey's books. In the play Snow White, Barthelme ponders what it's like to be a bored, frustrated "housewife." Other off-the-wall stage and radio plays included here reflect his rebellion against mundane reality. Most of the pieces are previously uncollected, though several appeared in Guilty Pleasures, an earlier omnibus. Barthelme's ready-made urban angst ultimately palls, however. For all its wit and inventiveness, his elegant, solipsistic doodling has only a tenuous grip on reality.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This is an assemblage of generally short pieces either previously unpublished, uncollected, or altered after publication, including the dramatization of the delirious postmodern Snow White ( LJ 5/15/67). These compositions are not easily categorized (although several are journalistic), which is part of their charm. References to such events as America's semi-forgotten Bicentennial might seem dated, but instead a certain vexing nostalgia is elicited when the subject is keenly targeted. Kindred spirit Thomas Pynchon provides an introduction that sets the tone for the writing that follows: amusing, heightened with cynicism, and rankled to the point of irritation yet without bitterness. The brevity of many of these pieces may make this intermittently cryptic author more accessible to some readers. This is indispensable Barthelme for most humanities collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/92.
- Janice Braun, Oakland, Cal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.