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Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme by [Daugherty, Tracy]
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Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Length: 592 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This sprawling first biography of the writer Donald Barthelme (1931–1989) complements an exemplary account of the man and his milieu with a history of 20th-century architecture, film, philosophy, visual art and political activism—not to mention a stunning exegesis of Barthelme's work and a surfeit of vignettes from New York literary life in the 1960s and '70s. Daugherty, a professor of English and creative writing at Oregon State and former student of Barthelme, renders the writer of The Dead Father in all his complexity: the experimental iconoclast, the establishment figure without a university degree who published more than 100 stories in the New Yorker, the citizen-activist, admitted alcoholic, the devoted if distant father and the prankster on the page. While Daugherty firmly takes Barthelme's side in his four troubled marriages, he assesses the writer's legacy, his champions and detractors (e.g., Joyce Carol Oates, John Gardner and the hundreds of readers who canceled their New Yorker subscriptions in 1968 to protest the publication of his catty Snow White). Like Barthelme's best stories, this unapologetically literary and ambitious book is cultural and artistic bricolage at its finest. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics unanimously applaud Daugherty for the first comprehensive, analytical biography of his former teacher. The Oregonian calls Hiding Man a "remarkably tender, sympathetic treatment" of Barthelme, and while Daugherty may have given Barthelme a glowing biography, he doesn't downplay his more negative traits. The book also does an excellent job of connecting the writer to his literary and social context. The Oregonian notes that while Barthelme can be difficult to read, "in Daugherty's hands the stories seem not nearly as challenging as they are inviting," a point echoed by the Washington Post. Readers interested in Barthelme will find an informative, entertaining biography; readers unacquainted with this postmodern giant may wish to start with one of his short story collections.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Product Details

  • File Size: 2109 KB
  • Print Length: 592 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Publication Date: February 3, 2009
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,536 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This biography is a well researched, fascinating account of an American original. It reads like a novel, but also has the scholarship and insight into Barthelme's work that one would demand. It's also a personal and moving portrait since the author knew Barthelme at one point during his life. I highly recommend this. Should get noticed for awards and certainly deserves to be read for its pleasure.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Daugherty's writing is definitely skillful and often beautiful. This is one of the best biographies I've read in a long time. I found the description of the relationship between Barthelme and Roger Angell, Barthelme's New Yorker editor, especially interesting--even shocking as a glimpse into that world. It would seem, from this narrative at least, that Barthelme's entire career was pretty much made by Angell, but that Barthelme was also enslaved to the New Yorker because of the curious fiscal practice of paying writers advances for future work, thus ensuring that the impoverished Barthelme would remain in debt to the famous magazine.

The last quarter or third of this book disappointed me. The writing became coy in terms of what was left out. After multiple discussions of the towering influence Barthelme's father had on him, and how Oedipal themes of patricide flourished in Barthelme's work, Daughtery never tells us how Barthelme Sr. reacted to Jr.'s work, alcoholism, and career ups and downs. Barthelme Sr. even outlived Jr., but Sr. basically disappears from the latter portion of the book. I got a strong sense that information was being withheld by the author, that probably Daughtery is protecting living members of the Barthelme family with whom he needed to collaborate to do as good of a job as he did.

In summary I would say this is a near-great book but it's marred by this possible self-censorship and withholding. Perhaps we'll have to wait for another couple of decades for another generation to produce the truly great Barthelme bio.
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Format: Hardcover
I finished this over the weekend, in a matter of days after I picking it up, & I found it nothing short of masterly. Tracy Daugherty begins w/ a crucial understanding, namely, that Donald Barthelme's life & career set a challenge for American imaginative literature, for what it holds valuable. So this entire espresso-rich compendium of pertinent life-detail -- reaching back to the founding of Houston & of Greenwich Village, to the structure & symbolism of Dante's DIVINE COMEDY, to the place of Andromache & Penelope in Homeric myth -- the entire book -- neglecting none of Barthelme's busy family, none of his stabs at reporting, at teaching, at art-curating, collage-making, radio-writing, jazz-playing, & none of his heavy drinking either, & certainly neglecting none of his many wives & lovers, a number of them (like Grace Paley) superb artists themselves -- still the entire biography never gets far from its argument. Barthelme's work, in Daugherty's ever-sensitive assessments, never lacks for the *edge* that drove it. As a writer, he was always up against the prevailing powers, & always subverting them w/ wit, intelligence, surprise, & a "golden ear" (to borrow the expression several of the former lovers & friends in this book find themselves using). In HIDING MAN Barthelme has a life-story worthy of the struggle to which he, all light-heartedly, dedicated his vocation. Anyone seeking to matter in the arts could learn from the fascinating, scrupulous, & highly humane scholarship Daugherty brings off here.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't imagine a better person to have written this first-rate biography of Donald Barthelme than Tracy Daugherty, who has brought his perspectives as writer, scholar, protege, friend, and person of integrity to bear on the artful revelation of one of our most important writers. Daugherty gives us a felt sense of the questions that drove Barthelme to become who he was and to make breakthroughs in language and consciousness. A student of Barthelme's at the same time as Tracy Daugherty, I can attest to his portrayal of Barthelme as mentor--demanding, generous, wise. But what fascinates me now, years later, is understanding Barthelme in the context of his time and as a shaper of new realities. Barthelme loved to put "a new thing into the world," and I can almost hear his clipped approval of Daugherty's biography of him, in all his complexity, brilliance, and humanness.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pynchon and Barthelme are America's most interesting authors of the 20th Century to my mind; Pynchon of the Melville esque huge universe volume, Barthelme of the short fiction realm. As I understand it, they were friends and it doesn't surprise me a bit. Perhaps some day Pynchon will eschew his compulsively incognito bent and let someone try to write a biography with some cooperation. When Barthelme was alive the first thing I scanned each week's New Yorker magazine for was another unpredictable piece by him. He never disappointed.
His novels "Snow White" and "The Dead Father" are classics, as is his children oriented collage experiment "The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine". Collections of his short pieces abound. I usually read about a dozen books at a time and I haven't yet finished Tracy Daugherty's satisfying biography...the book keeps sending me off to re read favorite and barely remembered dialogues such as the recently revisited "Eddie Liz Richard and Debbie" (I don't think it really had a title) some japery on the tabloid's grist for years.
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