The Magnificent Jumble of Donald Barthelme’s Stories

The Magnificent Jumble of Donald Barthelme’s Stories

Manhattan was the perfect subject for Barthelme’s comic fiction, a source of always-shifting relationships.

Decades after his premature death-in 1989 at the age of 58-Donald Barthelme might be the one indisputably minor American short story writer of the last century who remains a pleasure to read and reread. He focused primarily on surreal, unpredictable short stories that were often good but rarely great. He experimented with form restlessly and surprisingly from one story to another but rarely created anything that hadn’t been seen before in the works of those writers he admired-Samuel Beckett, Arthur Rimbaud, Gertrude Stein, Alain Robbe-Grillet and S.J. Perelman. He could amuse the heck out of readers but rarely made them laugh out loud. (suite…)