HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
Loading...

Sixty Stories (1981)

by Donald Barthelme

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,305149,037 (4.14)32
Recently added bymarbas, dstephenc101, edmadrid, csalisbury, private library, cns1000, MrtnHpp, phoebekw
Legacy LibrariesWalker Percy
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 32 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)


Dazzling collection of postmodern blisters and blasters, usually as short as three, four or five pages but some as long as twelve pages, stories written in dialogue or lists or letters or narrative, covering topics from highbrow culture to the lowbrow scuzzy, from the everyday to the sensational and historic, an innovative collection from one of the most perceptive wordsmiths ever to put pen to paper or fingers to typewriter. Many are the stories I found wickedly astute, including these two:

REPORT
Antiwar: The narrator is sent by an antiwar group from New York to Cleveland to persuade hundreds of engineers “not to do what they are going to do.” This 1968 Barthelme flash fiction was written at the peak of the U.S. war in Vietnam. A fiercely anti-U.S., anti-Vietnam War story, but not once is Vietnam mentioned. Similar to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (Donald Barthelme much admired Beckett), time-bound specific symbols and specific references are absent.

Cartoon Atmosphere: The Cleveland meeting of engineers takes place at a motel, very appropriate since the whole phenomenon of motels, those small, cheap, tacky roadside hotels with a swimming pool out back, were also at their peak in the late 1960s. Hundreds of engineers attend the meeting and as soon as our narrator walks in, he beholds chaos: not only are the engineers making calculations and taking measurements, they are drinking beer, throwing breads and hurling glasses into the fireplace. On top of this, he also sees most of those hundreds of engineers have their arms, legs or other body parts in plaster casts due to various kinds of multiple fractures. This bit of absurdity is truly cartoonish, and to top it off, the narrator tells us the engineers are friendly.

Friendly, Friendly: Of course those beer drinking, bread throwing engineers are friendly - friendly on the surface, that is, since their jolly laughter and all those jovial smiles are effective ways to maintain a lighthearted, uncritical attitude toward the destructive, tragic power and death-dealing consequences of their calculations and measurements.

Love and Information: Yes, yes, yes . . . the narrator tells us directly how the engineers are also full of love and information. As, for instance, when the chief engineer, standing among beer bottles and microphone cable, invites him to eat some of their chicken dinner and asks what they, the engineers, can do for him, their “distinguished guest.” A true stroke of irony bordering on sarcasm: to call such an outsider “distinguished guest,” an outsider who could quite possibly pose a threat to their developing and utilizing invented technologies to win the war.

The Irony Thickens; The Sarcasm Thickens: When the narrator states his line is software and how he wants to know what they are doing, the chief engineer begins his reply: “Ask us anything about our thing, which seems to be working. We will open our hearts and heads to you, Software Man, because we want to be understood and loved by the great lay public, and have our marvels appreciated by that public, for which we daily unsung produce tons of new marvels each more life-enhancing than the last.” Although the engineers are creating military weapons and chemicals to be used in war, the chief engineer refers to their creations as “life-enhancing.” Yet again another Donald Barthelme tale where language is distorted and twisted by the power people in order to maintain and expand their power.

A Sucker is Born Every Day: The Software Man states his concerns; the head engineer bombards him with a thick fog of words, including making a personal accusation of Software Man’s hatred and jealousy (ah, when it doubt, attack the person not the argument!). The fog of words is so thick he gets Software Man to leave with a smile on his face. Back among his antiwar group, the narrator stresses the friendliness of the engineers and how everything is all right, how “We have a moral sense." and “We are not going to do it.” Oh, my - not only swallowing the head engineer’s lies but taking on the identity of the entire room of friendly, beer drinking warmongers. Talk about gullible!


THE INDIAN UPRISING
One of the most popular Donald Barthelme’s stories. Here are a number of themes I see contained in its mere seven pages:

America, land of genocide
Why are Indians attacking an American city in the 20th century? Why are the narrator’s people defending the city? Is this a mental defending of past history, a defending or justifying the genocide of the Native Americans in previous centuries? Back in high school history class during the late 1960s, the time this story was written, there wasn’t too much said about the brutal treatment of Native Americans and the destruction of their populations and cultures. Ironically, my high school mascot was and still is “The Indians.”

America the superficial
“There were earthworks along the Boulevard Mark Clark and the hedges had been laced with sparkling wire.” Nice contrast, Donald: the Indians and their primitive crafts (earthworks) on one side and the barbed wire (sparkling wire) on the other. Donald Barthelme doesn’t miss an opportunity to make his story’s details, telling details – case in point, barbed wire played a pivotal role in transforming the open land west of the Mississippi River into domesticated ranchland. Meanwhile, the narrator, let’s call him Bob, asks his girlfriend Silvia if this is a good life. She tell him “No.” Are the apples, books and long-playing records laid out on a table (perhaps symbols of American, the land of plenty), Bob’s idea of a good life, even if his city is under attack? If so, Bob’s idea of the good life sounds rather superficial.

America the hyper-violent
Bob and others torture a Comanche but Bob doesn’t give this cruel act any more emotional weight than if he and a couple men were cleaning up a grimy picnic table. I don’t know about you, but such insensitivity and sadism sends shivers up my spine. In the late 1960s, the time when this story was first published, photographs of Americans torturing Vietnamese first began appearing fairly regularly in magazines and newspapers. Additionally, I recall how during the late 1960s , Saturday morning cartoons switched from funny to hyper-violent, which caused outrage among some to ask: “Are we becoming a country of extreme violence and nothing but extreme violence?”

America, land of postmodern leveling
Bob asks Silvia if she is familiar with the classical composer Gabriel Fauré. This question quickly shifts to Bob’s reflections on the details of a smut scene and then to the tables he made for four different women. This mental jumping from the beautiful to the repugnant, from people to objects, treating everything, irrespective of content, with the same emotional neutrality sounds like a grotesque form of postmodern leveling. Personally, this is one big reason have always refused to watch commercial television: the non-stop switching from one image to the next, from tragedy on the nightly news to selling candy bars to the latest insurance deal I find unsettling in the extreme.

America, land of the racist
Bob tells us: “Red men in waves like people, scattering in a square startled by something tragic or a sudden, loud noise accumulated against the barricade we had made of window dummies, silk, thoughtfully planned job descriptions (including scales for the orderly progress of other colors), wine in demijohns, and robes.” Red men in waves like people? They are people! Stupid to the core, Bob blithely dehumanizes others by his racism and barely realizes he is doing so. Donald Barthelme wrote this with a light touch, but I couldn’t imagine an author damning his own society and culture with more vitriol and scorn. John Gardner wrote how Barthelme lacked a moral sense. What the hell were you thinking, John?!

America, the land of hard drugs
To combat the uprising, Bob notes: “We sent more heroin into the ghetto.” And the emphasis is on “more” since it is well documented how the U.S. government permitted and even encouraged the influx of hard drugs into poor black neighborhoods. Ironically, the outrage over the widespread use of hard drugs began once drug usage and addiction entered the fabric of middle class suburbia. I don’t think I’m alone in detecting a direct link between the use of drugs -- hard drugs, prescription drugs, recreational drugs - and the emotional numbness people have to the ocean of detritus overwhelming their lives.

America, the land of booze and passion
Bob actively participates in more extreme torture. Doesn’t bother Bob in the least. Bob simply gets more and more drunk and falls more and more in love. Even when he hears children have been killed in masses, Bob barely reacts. Have some more booze, Bob, as that will solve all your problems. All this Bob stuff occurring in a world where, “The officer commanding the garbage dump reported by radio that the garbage had begun to move.” Also, “Strings of language extend in every direction to bind the world into a rushing, ribald whole.” Have another drink, Bob, and convince yourself you are falling more and more in love.
( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
... No, no thanks. Most of these stories just went in one hemisphere and out the other. Seriously. I pretty much didn't 'get' the majority of the stories. When I did get them, it wasn't that interesting or exciting. There were a couple of stories that I did LOVE, but they were sort of spoiled by not getting the rest of them.
Stories I liked:
Margins
A Shower of Gold
Will You Tell Me?
Game
The Indian Uprising (interesting, but not amazing)
Kierkegaard Unfair to Schlegel
The Glass Mountain
The Sandman (possibly my favourite)
Nothing: A Preliminary Account
The School
Cortez and Montezuma
The Zombies

That's 12/60. That's 1/5. I gave it 2/5 stars because sometimes the other stories were fun, but overall I applaud how fucking out there and creative they all were. ( )
  weberam2 | Nov 24, 2017 |


Dazzling collection of postmodern blisters and blasters, usually as short as three, four or five pages but some as long as twelve pages, stories written in dialogue or lists or letters or narrative, covering topics from highbrow culture to the lowbrow scuzzy, from the everyday to the sensational and historic, an innovative collection from one of the most perceptive wordsmiths ever to put pen to paper or fingers to typewriter. Many are the stories I found wickedly astute, including these two:

REPORT
Antiwar: The narrator is sent by an antiwar group from New York to Cleveland to persuade hundreds of engineers “not to do what they are going to do.” This 1968 Barthelme flash fiction was written at the peak of the U.S. war in Vietnam. A fiercely anti-U.S., anti-Vietnam War story, but not once is Vietnam mentioned. Similar to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (Donald Barthelme much admired Beckett), time-bound specific symbols and specific references are absent.

Cartoon Atmosphere: The Cleveland meeting of engineers takes place at a motel, very appropriate since the whole phenomenon of motels, those small, cheap, tacky roadside hotels with a swimming pool out back, were also at their peak in the late 1960s. Hundreds of engineers attend the meeting and as soon as our narrator walks in, he beholds chaos: not only are the engineers making calculations and taking measurements, they are drinking beer, throwing breads and hurling glasses into the fireplace. On top of this, he also sees most of those hundreds of engineers have their arms, legs or other body parts in plaster casts due to various kinds of multiple fractures. This bit of absurdity is truly cartoonish, and to top it off, the narrator tells us the engineers are friendly.

Friendly, Friendly: Of course those beer drinking, bread throwing engineers are friendly - friendly on the surface, that is, since their jolly laughter and all those jovial smiles are effective ways to maintain a lighthearted, uncritical attitude toward the destructive, tragic power and death-dealing consequences of their calculations and measurements.

Love and Information: Yes, yes, yes . . . the narrator tells us directly how the engineers are also full of love and information. As, for instance, when the chief engineer, standing among beer bottles and microphone cable, invites him to eat some of their chicken dinner and asks what they, the engineers, can do for him, their “distinguished guest.” A true stroke of irony bordering on sarcasm: to call such an outsider “distinguished guest,” an outsider who could quite possibly pose a threat to their developing and utilizing invented technologies to win the war.

The Irony Thickens; The Sarcasm Thickens: When the narrator states his line is software and how he wants to know what they are doing, the chief engineer begins his reply: “Ask us anything about our thing, which seems to be working. We will open our hearts and heads to you, Software Man, because we want to be understood and loved by the great lay public, and have our marvels appreciated by that public, for which we daily unsung produce tons of new marvels each more life-enhancing than the last.” Although the engineers are creating military weapons and chemicals to be used in war, the chief engineer refers to their creations as “life-enhancing.” Yet again another Donald Barthelme tale where language is distorted and twisted by the power people in order to maintain and expand their power.

A Sucker is Born Every Day: The Software Man states his concerns; the head engineer bombards him with a thick fog of words, including making a personal accusation of Software Man’s hatred and jealousy (ah, when it doubt, attack the person not the argument!). The fog of words is so thick he gets Software Man to leave with a smile on his face. Back among his antiwar group, the narrator stresses the friendliness of the engineers and how everything is all right, how “We have a moral sense." and “We are not going to do it.” Oh, my - not only swallowing the head engineer’s lies but taking on the identity of the entire room of friendly, beer drinking warmongers. Talk about gullible!


THE INDIAN UPRISING
One of the most popular Donald Barthelme’s stories. Here are a number of themes I see contained in its mere seven pages:

America, land of genocide
Why are Indians attacking an American city in the 20th century? Why are the narrator’s people defending the city? Is this a mental defending of past history, a defending or justifying the genocide of the Native Americans in previous centuries? Back in high school history class during the late 1960s, the time this story was written, there wasn’t too much said about the brutal treatment of Native Americans and the destruction of their populations and cultures. Ironically, my high school mascot was and still is “The Indians.”

America the superficial
“There were earthworks along the Boulevard Mark Clark and the hedges had been laced with sparkling wire.” Nice contrast, Donald: the Indians and their primitive crafts (earthworks) on one side and the barbed wire (sparkling wire) on the other. Donald Barthelme doesn’t miss an opportunity to make his story’s details, telling details – case in point, barbed wire played a pivotal role in transforming the open land west of the Mississippi River into domesticated ranchland. Meanwhile, the narrator, let’s call him Bob, asks his girlfriend Silvia if this is a good life. She tell him “No.” Are the apples, books and long-playing records laid out on a table (perhaps symbols of American, the land of plenty), Bob’s idea of a good life, even if his city is under attack? If so, Bob’s idea of the good life sounds rather superficial.

America the hyper-violent
Bob and others torture a Comanche but Bob doesn’t give this cruel act any more emotional weight than if he and a couple men were cleaning up a grimy picnic table. I don’t know about you, but such insensitivity and sadism sends shivers up my spine. In the late 1960s, the time when this story was first published, photographs of Americans torturing Vietnamese first began appearing fairly regularly in magazines and newspapers. Additionally, I recall how during the late 1960s , Saturday morning cartoons switched from funny to hyper-violent, which caused outrage among some to ask: “Are we becoming a country of extreme violence and nothing but extreme violence?”

America, land of postmodern leveling
Bob asks Silvia if she is familiar with the classical composer Gabriel Fauré. This question quickly shifts to Bob’s reflections on the details of a smut scene and then to the tables he made for four different women. This mental jumping from the beautiful to the repugnant, from people to objects, treating everything, irrespective of content, with the same emotional neutrality sounds like a grotesque form of postmodern leveling. Personally, this is one big reason have always refused to watch commercial television: the non-stop switching from one image to the next, from tragedy on the nightly news to selling candy bars to the latest insurance deal I find unsettling in the extreme.

America, land of the racist
Bob tells us: “Red men in waves like people, scattering in a square startled by something tragic or a sudden, loud noise accumulated against the barricade we had made of window dummies, silk, thoughtfully planned job descriptions (including scales for the orderly progress of other colors), wine in demijohns, and robes.” Red men in waves like people? They are people! Stupid to the core, Bob blithely dehumanizes others by his racism and barely realizes he is doing so. Donald Barthelme wrote this with a light touch, but I couldn’t imagine an author damning his own society and culture with more vitriol and scorn. John Gardner wrote how Barthelme lacked a moral sense. What the hell were you thinking, John?!

America, the land of hard drugs
To combat the uprising, Bob notes: “We sent more heroin into the ghetto.” And the emphasis is on “more” since it is well documented how the U.S. government permitted and even encouraged the influx of hard drugs into poor black neighborhoods. Ironically, the outrage over the widespread use of hard drugs began once drug usage and addiction entered the fabric of middle class suburbia. I don’t think I’m alone in detecting a direct link between the use of drugs -- hard drugs, prescription drugs, recreational drugs - and the emotional numbness people have to the ocean of detritus overwhelming their lives.

America, the land of booze and passion
Bob actively participates in more extreme torture. Doesn’t bother Bob in the least. Bob simply gets more and more drunk and falls more and more in love. Even when he hears children have been killed in masses, Bob barely reacts. Have some more booze, Bob, as that will solve all your problems. All this Bob stuff occurring in a world where, “The officer commanding the garbage dump reported by radio that the garbage had begun to move.” Also, “Strings of language extend in every direction to bind the world into a rushing, ribald whole.” Have another drink, Bob, and convince yourself you are falling more and more in love.
( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
I have been translating some of these stories into Portuguese. At the time we had no published Portuguese translations and I decided to have a try, just for myself. The result is amazing, Don B. lives...
  luisgouveiafernandes | Sep 28, 2015 |
I wanted to review this book by writing one sentence about each short story (60 sentences in all), but I have to confess this: I wasn't sure what some of the stories were even about. I am glad I found other "I'm so confused" reviews. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one lost from time to time. I'm like the sober party-goer who doesn't get the drunk joke that everyone else is cracking up about. Even the writing structure was strange. Sometimes a story wouldn't have paragraphs. Other times the story was without punctuation. Or. Or! Or, something like this - the word butter written 97 times. Most of the time it was people acting oddly like writing letters to their lover's therapist or living in the church of their denomination or killing 6,000 dogs after buying Galveston, Texas. Some stories were profound especially when they centered on the human condition. Others were just plain strange and I couldn't wrap my brain around his motive or meaning.

Lines I liked but didn't understand, "But stealing books is metaphysically different from stealing like money" (p 13), "Strangling the moon is wrong" (p 99), and "The bad zombies banged the Bishop's car with a dead cow, at night" (p 351). ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donald Barthelmeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gates, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142437395, Paperback)

This excellent collection of Donald Barthelme's literary output during the 1960s and 1970s covers the period when the writer came to prominence--producing the stories, satires, parodies, and other formal experiments that altered fiction as we know it--and wrote many of the most beautiful sentences in the English language. Due to the unfortunate discontinuance of many of Barthelme's titles, 60 Stories now stands as one of the broadest overviews of his work, containing selections from eight previously published books, as well as a number of other short works that had been otherwise uncollected.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:22 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Presents a collection of sixty short stories by twentieth-century American author Donald Barthelme.

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.14)
0.5 1
1 1
1.5
2 6
2.5 2
3 28
3.5 12
4 58
4.5 16
5 76

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 132,654,188 books! | Top bar: Always visible