Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Resurgence for Donald B.

Suddenly, a lot of talk about Donald Barthelme. The release of a new biography, Hiding Man, has led to a piece in The New Yorker by Louis Menand and a forthcoming piece in the New York Review of Books by Lorrie Moore.

In an audio piece that accompanies his review, Menand makes the point that Barthelme’s playful, rule-breaking work is maybe most potent when discovered at a relatively young age. (I excerpted one of my favorite stories here.)

It’s fitting that Barthelme is the focus of prolonged attention the same week as David Foster Wallace is, since I think Wallace’s work reflects Barthelme’s influence much more than that of writers like Dave Eggers and Jonathan Safran Foer, who Menand mentions. Wallace once called Barthelme’s work one of the “stars [I] steer by,” and said that his story “The Balloon,” “is the first story I ever read that made me want to be a writer.”

As an accompaniment to James Wood’s list from the other day, you can go back and look at a list of 81 books that Barthelme recommended to his students.


Anonymous pf said...

He looks like a Donald.

12:56 PM  

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