Further Fridays: Essays, Lectures, and Other Nonfiction, 1984-94

John Barth, Author Little Brown and Company $27.95 (377p) ISBN 978-0-316-08324-9

Novelist Barth has often been called a postmodernist, and in these witty essays, many of which have appeared in various periodicals, he explores the hallmarks of the style--formal playfulness, narrative self-consciousness, self-reflexiveness, ironic recycling of premodern devices--in a host of writers from Laurence Sterne to Thomas Pynchon, Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Barth charts his own creative evolution from the realism and minimalism of The Floating Opera to the high-energy extravagances of The Sot-Weed Factor and Giles Goat-Boy. He champions the terse minimalism of Ann Beattie, Raymond Carver and Frederick Barthelme and hurls ripostes at his critics, notably John Gardner and Tom Wolfe. A sequel to his first collection of essays, The Friday Book (1984), this miscellany includes a piece on the ecology and literature of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay region, a study of Poe's novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and an illustrated essay drawing parallels between postmodernism, literary arabesques and chaos theory. (Aug.)
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