DONALD BARTHELME: The Genesis of a Cool Sound

Helen Moore Barthelme, Author
Helen Moore Barthelme, Author . Texas A&M Univ. $29.95 (246p) ISBN 978-1-58544-119-8
Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Open Ebook - 249 pages - 978-1-299-13793-6
Open Ebook - 248 pages - 978-1-60344-670-9
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Barthelme, a senior lecturer of English at Texas A&M University, was married to Donald Barthelme for a decade in the 1950s and '60s; here she ably recounts Donald's emergence as an important experimental American author who produced over 100 works of short fiction and several novels. This engaging, unpretentious recollection of "Don," who died in 1989 of cancer at age 58, covers events from his childhood in Houston as the son of a famous architect father, to his development into an "exciting," if often "puzzling," thinker and writer. The reader learns of Donald's various employments, from journalism (the Houston Post) to public relations. With the 1964 publication of Come Back, Dr. Caligari, a collection of short stories, he became recognized for "innovative work [that] challenged the accepted forms of fiction." Barthelme is able to reveal important, sometimes frivolous, often minute details, such as who paid the check when the Barthelmes went to dinner with Kenneth Koch and Robert Bly. She also conveys Donald's seemingly troubled (yet not quite tragic) life, including the alcoholism and intimacy phobia that plagued many modern and postmodern American male writers. Helen Barthelme's frank prose never passes personal opinion off as fact or fawns over its subject; clearly, her own life has been professionally and personally rich. One senses behind this account a pure impulse to document the life and work of a notable American artist; it will benefit scholars and general readers alike. Photos. (June 25)

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