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Paperback Forty Stories Book

ISBN: 0142437816

ISBN13: 9780142437810

Forty Stories

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

William H. Gass has written of Donald Barthelme that "he has permanently enlarged our perception of the possibilities open to short fiction." In Forty Stories , the companion volume to Sixty Stories , we encounter a dazzling array of subjects: Paul Klee, Goethe, Captain Blood , modern courtship, marriage and divorce, armadillos, and other unique Barthelmean flights of fancy. These pithy, brilliantly acerbic pieces tangle with the ludicrous, pose questions...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Perfect Motivation

As an aspiring writer, these stories by Barthelme give me hope that experimental literature still thrives in this sound byte-, laugh track-, talking head-prompted, fast-paced MTV culture of ours. For the most part, the stories take a level of patients foreign to the average reader, but are so creative, so clever, so breathtaking (to sound cliché)--and let's not forget: short (most average 6ish pages)--and so on that before you even have a chance to let one story sink in, you're already well into the next. Which, I might add, is a good thing. The stories challenge but, unlike contemporaries who mimic Barthelme's style, are not challenging in such a way as to detract or distract. They stick with you long after you've read them and, like Eggers says in his introduction, it's hard for someone who writes to make it through a page without being struck by an idea of their own. Inspiring stuff.

Marvelous collection by one of America's most unique writers

Donald Barthelme is one of the very few masters of the short short story. The only others that come to mind are Saki, Borges, and Franz Kakfa. Few of the stories in this collection extend past three pages. All are marked by the same virtues evident throughout the collection: surreality, inventiveness, enormous humor, a sensitivity to our collective culture. Some have commented on the collection being uneven. Perhaps. But the stories are quite diverse, and I suspect that what some find uneven is actually their diversity, some of them appealing more to one's particular bias more than others.This is a great collection for shaking up your perception, for making you reconceptualize the short story form. Anyone liking these stories should go on to try some Saki (the author, not the beverage). Although not as surreal as Barthelme, his stories are just as short, just as funny, and just as delightful.

defies imitation

During Barthelme's lifetime, I think many readers thought that his work would permanently alter the short story form. He achieved such powerful effects; his stories were so funny, so moving, so original and offbeat, and yet so deceptively simple and effortless-seeming. I certainly expected that other writers would come along and produce similar stories, since he had shown how it should be done, and we would be innundated with Barthelme-like fiction. But I don't think that's really happened. There have been imitators, of course, but they've been mostly embarrassingly flat, replacing the master's edgy brilliance with silly incoherence. Barthelme defies all imitators; his stories continue to stand as one-of-a-kind monuments, written in a truly singular voice by a truly singular talent, to urban life in the late 20th century. Read them. I particularly love "The Genius," with its poignant and yet absurd portrait of the world's most brilliant man, and "At the Tolstoy Museum," with its hilarious drawings of the great author's supposedly gargantuan coat, etc. It's funny because it's (somehow) true, like all of his work. "40 Stories" is the best introduction to Barthelme, so if you don't know him, this is the place to start.

agreed, and addendum

I agree with every word of the previous review, but think we shouldn't overlook Barthelme's cutting wit. His style of often sarcastic and edgy humour is possibly the most intellectually stimulating out there. It's one thing to be creative, but to not only purvey a state of mind-expansion in your reader but make him/her smile or laugh while doing so deserves kudos. "The Baby" and "Porcupines" are perhaps his finest examples in this regard... brilliant. My dinky little review doesn't quite do this man justice, just pick this book up for starters then graduate to the slightly more challenging "60 Stories" when the hooks are planted.

Steroids for imagination

Bartheleme's work energizes creativity. It is playful in a way that beat writers never achieved. By letting images and thoughts run loose, he inspires creativity in the mind of readers. You do not need to take creative writing classes to learn how to write-you simply have to let your stories come out of what your imagination wants to say. This is the enlightenment that Bartheleme inspires. And reading this collection will vastly improve anyone's writing. It's complex, but never difficult and its effects are always surprising. He was as original and inspiring to writing as Jimmy Hendrix was to music. You will like this book.
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