Not-knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme

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Random House, 1997 - Literary Collections - 332 pages
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Donald Barthelme's premature death at the age of fifty-eight brought to an end one of the most provocative careers in the history of American literature. Groundbreaking works such as Come Back, Dr. Caligari; The Dead Father; Snow White; Great Days; Overnight to Many Distant Cities; Guilty Pleasures; and his two short-fiction collections, Forty Stories and Sixty Stories, have earned him a place among the most influential and imitated authors of the last half-century. With his marvelously strange and darkly ironic vision of the world, his wizard satire and deadpan humor, Barthelme spoke of and for our time like no one else. He spoke of our national obsessions and weirdnesses, our unspeakable practices and unnatural acts, in what is for many the distinctive voice of postmodern America.
Not-Knowing is the second posthumous collection of Donald Barthelme's work. Like The Teachings of Don B. (1992), it brings together shorter works now almost impossible to come by. While the first volume featured the author's tantalizing experiments in satire, parable, fable, and playwriting, this new volume focuses on his diverse nonfiction pieces, collectively referred to here as essays, although, as always with Barthelme's work, they are feistily resistant to any label. Categorizable or not, Not-Knowing contains Barthelme's pungent comments on writing, art, literature, film, and city life, which are, as John Barth says in his Introduction, among the permanent literary treasures of American postmodernist writing. Also here are several interviews with the author--invaluable for understanding this very private man--including two never before available. The interviews range over the last eighteen years ofBarthelme's life, and they give readers the opportunity to watch his ideas as they expand, change, and settle.
Kim Herzinger has gathered here an eclectic selection of pieces for Barthelme's many admirers, creating a work that will confirm his rightful standing as, in the words of Robert Coover, "one of the great citizens of contemporary world letters."

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User Review  - Jason_Howell - LibraryThing

Pretty essential for writers; especially the title essay and the interviews that close the book out. Teaches you to know how to not know what to do. Read full review

NOT-KNOWING: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

What Thomas Pynchon called ``Barthelmismo'' is somewhat lacking in the second posthumous collection edited by Herzinger of Barthelme's miscellaneous writings, which here includes film and book reviews ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

The late Donald Barthelme was a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, winner of a National Book Award, a director of PEN and the Authors Guild, and a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His sixteen books--including Snow White, The Dead Father, and City Life--substantially redefined American short fiction for our time.

About the Editor:
Kim Herzinger teaches at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of books and articles on D.H. Lawrence, modern and contemporary literature, Sherlock Holmes, and baseball, and is now at work on a cultural biography of Donald Barthelme.

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