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Paperback The Development Book

ISBN: 0547394500

ISBN13: 9780547394503

The Development

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

"I find myself inclined to set down for whomever, before my memory goes kaput altogether, some account of our little community, in particular of what Margie and I consider to have been its most interesting hour: the summer of the Peeping Tom." Something has disturbed the comfortably retired denizens of a pristine Florida-style gated community in Chesapeake Bay country. In the dawn of the new millennium and the evening of their lives, these empty nesters...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Sparkling Stories

Imaginative stories that focus on a demographic that doesn't get much airtime: Aging residents of a gated community on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The fact that most of the characters are over 60 delights readers who might not be aware that seasoned adults have rich and varied histories behind them, plump with events and philosophies and experiences. Barth deftly explores life, death, growing old, being in love, and looking back on the good and bad things that life brings to all of us. I'm usually a fan of science fiction and of stories with things blowing up and people getting into gunfights, etc. "The Development" contains stories more or less about me and my husband and the life we have shared with all of its ups and downs. Every story rang true but had its own quirky twist that appealed to my appreciation of odd things.

Sleeper Hit

This well-crafted collection of stories surrounding a suburban development is worth a close read. Barth's language is compelling and literary, but easy to digest. The narrative echoes the tone of "The Ice Storm." It's a joy to see the pieces fit together.

Barth's levity lightens these stories filled with dark themes

The Development is a novel told in nine short stories. The title refers to Heron Bay Estates, a fictional retirement/second-home community on the Chesapeake Bay in which all of these stories take place. Although the same characters appear throughout the book, the focus and point of view changes for each story, revealing new information about the characters and illustrating the deep connections that run through this close-knit community. In addition to the idea of community, the other primary theme present in these stories is mortality and the aging process: What does it mean to grow old? And when, if ever, is it time to give up the ghost? Barth pays great attention to structure in this collection. Not only is the narrative structure of each story closely controlled, but the structure of Heron Bay Estates is also meticulously described and upheld. Each sub-neighborhood contains a particular style of house and a specific type of inhabitant, and Barth remains faithful, sometimes annoyingly so, to this structure throughout. Bath's playful writing style adds a substantial amount of levity to these often dark stories, though Barth's narrative stunts are occasionally more frustrating than satisfying. In one case, Barth simply stops a story in the middle of the action, "pull[ing] its narrative plug before somebody gets hurt." Only someone with a reputation as well-established as Barth's can get away with such an escape. Fortunately, other fully-formed stories (of which "Toga Party" is the best) round out this interesting collection.

A playful flirtation with the Grim Reaper

THE DEVELOPMENT is a collection of nine short stories that are connected (sufficiently so that it is fair to regard the book as a novel) by setting, characters, and plot developments. The setting is a planned community on Maryland's Eastern Shore, whose residents are upper-middle class WASPs (with a few Catholics and Jews) living the later or last chapters of their lives, most of whom understandably are pre-occupied with the various manifestations of decrepitude and with death. Yet the novel is by no means a downer. It is so infused with Barth's typical good humor and gentle irony, his linguistic playfulness, and his clever digressions into "meta-fiction" that it becomes an entertainment. THE DEVELOPMENT also features Barth's typical fascination with, and telescoping examination of, matters of history/time and geography/space. In this regard, the last paragraph is particularly noteworthy, and poignant, bearing as it does hints of the author's valediction. Sad to think that this might well be the last work from Barth, who now is 78 (although in a sense, as Barth I think would concur, what is sad about the inevitable?). THE DEVELOPMENT may not be a major work of American fiction, on the plane of "The Sot-Weed Factor" or "Lost in the Funhouse", but it still is worthwhile. As odd as it might seem to say about a work that constantly flirts with the Grim Reaper, I thoroughly enjoyed THE DEVELOPMENT.

Aging in place

A humorous,bittersweet and affectionate look at the challenges of growing older in a (half) gated community. Barth at his perceptive best
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