"Check-in"--dinner is more pensive than festive. The couple chooses the buffet restaurant. In "The End" the narrator must continue the introduction until the guest speaker, a female poet, delayed by security measures, appears. It is the innauguration of the Last Lecture Series, endowed by someone who died rather quickly afterwards, and is an end of sorts for the narrator who is retiring from his professorial position. History is a Mandelbrot set, infinitely divisible. The story of our life is a story, not our life. Elizabeth's father died in the corridor of the county hospital while she was on a book tour. In the draft of a letter to an old friend Elizabeth writes that since time out of mind she had been absorbing stories. Her father was a born story-teller. Elizabeth, in her forties, develops into one of the memorable voices of her generation. Alice is in flight crossing the Mississippi River. She wonders where the money had come from in those "Leave It to Beaver" years, the 1960's and 1970's when she grew up. In a story Alice is reading the malaise is called the Boomer Syndrome. Alice thinks of the Uncertainty Principle holding that the more we know about a particle's position the less we know about its momentum. It turns out Alice's seat companion is the author of the story Alice is reading. Do people think of their lives as stories from birth to death? Mimi assumes a supporting role when her husband Rob is found to have AIDS. One of the characters believes that not enough has been written about happy marriages.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
the intricate intertwining of these short stories was so good that after finishing I didn't just recommend it to everyone, I bought 25 copies to force on friends so they almost HAD to read it. lots of literary games going on, but not at the expense of the story in general. the main story focus of a married couple, their struggles, and exactly what's wrong with the health of one of them gives these stories a dark edge.
fact or ...?
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
This collection of stories is really a collection of ingenious essays -- on narrative, fiction writing, and stories themselves -- masquerading as fiction. Witty and inventive. Great fun for grad-student aspiring fictioneers.
Intelligently, tightly-drawn short story cycle
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 24 years ago
Barth is truly one of the most intelligent fiction writers inAmerica today. While his recent novels have been a bit too convoluted (and perhaps repetitive), this series of short stories is truly Barth at his best. Of the twelve stories, four are beginnings, four are middles, and four are ends. While each story is, on the surface, about narrative (as is the case with most of BArth's fiction), the stories also touch on the passing and the immortality of love in modern society. It takes some thought to get through this book, but the effort is well-rewarded.
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