Synopses & Reviews
Donald Barthelme was one of the most influential and inventive writers of the twentieth century. Through his unique, richly textured, and brilliantly realized novels, stories, parodies, satires, fables, and essays, Barthelme redefined a generation of American letters. To John Hawkes, he was "one of our greatest of all comic writers." Robert Coover called him "one of our great citizens of contemporary world letters." And to Thomas Pynchon, who coined the term Barthelismo, his work conveyed something of "the clarity and sweep, the intensity of emotion, the transcendent weirdness of the primary experience."
This collection presents all of Barthelme's previously unpublished and uncollected short fiction, as well as work not published in his two compendium editions, Sixty Storiesand Forty Stories. Highlights of Flying to America include three unpublished stories, "Among the Beanwoods," "Heather," and "Pandemonium"; fourteen stories never before available in book form-from his first published story, "Pages from the Annual Report" (1959), to his last, "Tickets" (1989); and the long out-of-print Sam's Bar, with illustrations by Seymour Chwast. With Flying to America, fans and new readers alike have the huge pleasure of a new collection from one of America's great literary masters.
"Along with Kurt Vonnegut, Barthelme (1931 1989) was one of the great 20th-century American absurdists. The 45 stories in this collection include stories Barthelme himself excluded from his two major collections, Sixty Stories and Forty Stories, and little that went previously unpublished. Packed with whimsical facts, 'Emma Green Is 81,' which was the lead story in Barthelme's first book, concerns the verbose narrator's testy desire that Emma continue to finance the Journal of Tension Reduction, of which he is the editor. In 'Pandemonium,' the story Barthelme was working on when he died, two unidentified voices finish each other's sentences as they lament that their staging of the Eve myth has been eclipsed by a sporting event. Barthelme registered the sexual revolution and the feminist response, both of which he treated via an ironic use of stereotypes: in 'Perpetua,' a woman walks out of her marriage to a put-upon, unprepossessing, baffled man named Harold. And typical of several humorous riffs is 'Marie Marie, Hold on Tight,' concerning a protest staged against the human condition outside a church. Even the lesser of Barthelme's funhouse mirrors reflect the world's tragicomic essence." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Reading any posthumous anthology of uncollected or unpublished works is like panning for gold with the foreknowledge that the best stuff has likely been plucked, polished and put on sale by the author himself. Fortunately, Barthelme was so prolific and talented that Flying to America contains a few 'Eureka!' moments." Houston Chronicle
"As a whole, this is less satisfying than the other collections, but the title story (and at least ten others) remains wildly successful." Library Journal
About the Author
Donald Barthelme (19311989) was the author of seventeen books and the winner of a National Book Award.