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Paradise (Novel American Literature)by Donald Barthelme
Synopses & Reviews
Simon, a middle-aged architect separated from his wife, is given the chance to live out a stereotypical male fantasy: freed from the travails of married life, he ends up living with three nubile lingerie models who use him as a sexual object.
Set in the 1980s, there's a further tension between Simon's desire to exploit this stereotypical fantasy and his (as well as the author's) desire to treat the women as human beings, despite the women's claims that Simon can't distinguish between their personalities.
Employing a variety of forms, Barthelme gracefully plays with this setup, creating a story that's not just funny--although it's definitely that--but actually quite melancholy, as Simon knows that the women's departure is inevitable, that this "paradise" will come to an end, and that he'll be left with only an empty house, booze, and regrets about chances not taken.
"No other word for it: a charming book."--Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek
About the Author
Donald Barthelme (1931-1989) was the son of an avant-garde architect. He wrote a series of novels and story collections that earned him a wide reputation as one of the most innovative and important voices in American literature. Though born in New York, he grew up, attended college, and began his writing career in Houston. Winner of the National Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a PEN/Faulkner Award, Barthelme's interest was both literary and cultural. His style was, in the words of Robert Coover, "precise, urbane, ironic, rivetingly succinct accumulative in its comical and often surreal juxtapositions." Barthelme was a master of turning his spare, surprising sentences to the frail absurdity of the modern world as he saw it.
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