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Uchenie Dona B. : Satiry, parodii, basni, rasskazy v kartinkah i pesy

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. A collection of writings by the late author features previously unpublished works, including stage and radio plays, collage stories, and other short works.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Playing the B-sides

The critical consensus on Donald Barthelme is that he basically reinvented the short story during his lifetime (he died in 1989). While there is some exaggeration involved in this assessment -- at times, Barthelme seems to be doing nothing much more than channeling Kafka -- his work is unique, inventive, and experimental in the best sense of the word. The present collection contains many of his occasional and "lighter" works. A number of them, for example, originally appeared as unsigned pieces in "The New Yorker". If the collections "Sixty Stories" and "Forty Stories" can be seen as Barthelme's greatest hits, then "The Teachings of Don B." can be seen as the B-sides. The subtitle of the book calls this a collection of "satires, parodies, fables, illustrated stories, and plays," and the description fits. The title story is a send-up of Carlos Castenada's "Don Juan" books, and on the whole the volume is marked by a certain air of lightness and good humor. There is a stretch in the middle, consisting mainly of works that originally appeared between chapters in the book "Overnight to Many Distant Cities", that is somewhat slower and more ponderous than the surrounding text, but it doesn't last for long. Of particular interest are the illustrated stories, where the text is complimented by collages made from old photographs and illustrations, somewhat in the manner of the Surrealists. My only complaint about this book is the inclusion of three short plays at the end. While interesting, they don't quite mesh with the rest of the volume, and could easily have been published on their own. The collection also features an introduction by Thomas Pynchon, which in itself it worth the price of admission.

Funny, sad, inoculating, irritating

With the possible exception of Thomas Pynchon, there isn't a writer around, living or dead (that I know of--I haven't read them all), who gives us a funnier, more accurate understanding of the absurdity of late twentieth-century existence than Barthelme, and it's good to have these previously uncollected pieces in one volume. The quality of this book is, I believe, remarkably even, but some pieces hit me harder than others. No one could have written "Here's the Ed Sullivan Show" but DB; what an eye the guy had! Read this book (or SIXTY STORIES or SNOW WHITE) and you will not be able to look at the world in the same way again. DB knew better than most what petty, unexamined, selfish lives we live (but this is not to say that DB was mean spirited). Does he give solutions? Sort of, but not solutions that I am capable of paraphrasing. There may be readers for whom DB's teachings will seem pointless and not worth the trouble. (To them I say, "Back to your Grisham and Steele!") But for most of the rest of us--as bombarded as we are with insulting campaign pitches, thisandthat.com (!) ads, news of how the market is making us all wealthy, endless blockbuster film versions of mediocre TV shows, more tripe about what a great president Reagan was and on and on--DB can function as a sort of philosophical ophtalmologist with a rare antidote that will both make us laugh at and feel a bit grim about our consumer society.

Incredibly funny

I have never read anything this hilarious. It's perfectly balanced, too: Barthelme never goes too far or too short. Also get the "40 Stories" which in my opinion are much better than the 60.

Oh yes...

Just about perfect

Reprinting Genius

Anyone familiar with Barthelme's short stories knows what a joy they are. This recent reprint collects loads of Borges-sized nuggets not available in his other collections, and they will leave you in stitches. "When I didn't win the New York State lottery" seemed poignant to me after buying my first lotto ticket for the big prize, and planning out what to do with the hypothetical winnings. There are dozens of stories, two plays, and more here. A must have for Barthelme fans, and it has an introduction that is actually worth reading by Pynchon.
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