Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mistrusting the whole

  • Theresa Bradley reviews a new collection of previously unpublished Donald Barthelme stories via The Associated Press.
Barthelme, who called himself an "alleged postmodernist," a wink at the label some sought to pin on his fragmented work, suggests, though, that communication just might be possible.

"Wake up! ...Things are not that bad! " cries Cornelia, the feisty old heroine of his story, "You Are Cordially Invited."

"The new opium of the people is opium, and I think that's quite a hopeful development," she says. "At least the thing is what it is, not something disguised as something else."

Barthelme, a Texas native and professor of creative writing, hit the American literary scene in the early 1960s, blending pop cultural references and private psychology in compact collages of dialogue, detail and dreamscape — crafting a surreal fiction that peppers sadness with satire and wit.

"Fragments," he once famously wrote, "are the only form I trust."

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