Painted Desert

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Penguin Publishing Group, 1997 - Fiction - 256 pages
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Junior college professor Del Tribute and his cyber-muckraker friend Jen catch some old news footage of the L.A. riots, some of that vivid close-up slow motion shaky-cam stuff with the fires blazing and people getting trashed, and Jen, in particular, is incensed by the barbarity of the scene. At her insistence she and Del, her father, Mike, and her friend Penny decide to step out of the shadows and head to ground zero - Los Angeles - to do something, anything, about this particular horror. Jen sets up a scourge of e-mail spamming and internet newsgroup posts about the atrocities of the riots, but then one night in Dallas she gets a strange message back from a guy in Las Vegas named Durrell Dobson. He's sympathetic about the riots, but his messages are filled with bizarre personal sex histories, terrorism threats, an evangelical froth of retribution. His urgent messages rip veils off his schemes, name victims, reveal strategies, and Jen feels oddly responsible for his fervor. How Jen and Del and the others resolve their conflicted interests, and the shocking acts they may have encouraged, provides the conclusion to this novel of character, culture, and the media.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A zeitgeisty novelist and storywriter hitchhikes on the info highway, only to endorse a decidedly low-tech, retro view of hope and redemption. Barthelme's post-midlife-crisis narrative resurrects ... Read full review

Painted desert: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this sequel to The Brothers (LJ 8/93), Barthelme revisits Del and Jen, a wisecracking 1990s couple living in Biloxi, Mississippi. Del, divorced and pushing 50, is starting life over with Jen, a 27 ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Frederick Barthelme is the author of sixteen books of fiction and nonfiction, one of which, Elroy Nights, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and a New York Times Notable Book. His most recent book, There Must Be Some Mistake, was published in 2014. Until 2010, he directed the writing program at the University of Southern Mississippi and edited the Mississippi Review. He is currently editor and publisher of the online literary publication New World Writing.

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