Tag Archives: Donald Barthelme

New books: August

Now, I can’t put prices on these as I can’t recall how much I paid for some of them. However, brace yourselves. There’s a few.

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  • Victor Hugo –  Notre-Dame de Paris     50p
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald –  The Collected Short Stories     50p
  • Evan S. Connell –  Mrs Bridge     99p
  • Patrick Hamilton –  Hangover Square     99p
  • E. M. Forster –  The Obelisk     £1.49
  • Evelyn Waugh –  Vile Bodies     99p
  • Robert James Waller – The Bridges of Madison County     20p
  • Mary Shelley – Frankenstein The 1818 Text     20p
  • Roald Dahl –  The Enormous Crocodile     50p
  • Seth MacFarlane –  A Million Ways to Die in the West
  • Donald Barthelme –  Sixty Stories
  • Christopher Marlowe –  The Plays

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  • Apollodorus –  The Library of Greek Mythology
  • Herodotus –  The Histories

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  • John Kinsella –  Shades of the Sublime & Beautiful
  • William Congreve –  Incognita
  • Three Revenge Tragedies
  • Anne Fadiman –  Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
  • Brian Friel –  Translations     –     Making History
  • Edwin Morgan –  The Play of Gilgamesh
  • Beaumarchais –  The Marriage of Figaro

These seven were all from the book sale at Webberley’s, the bookshop I mentioned in the July books post.

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  • Jeffrey Brown –  Star Wars: Jedi Academy

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  • Jane Austen –  Mansfield Park
  • Jules Verne –  Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward

Now, the reason that I never got this post up in August or September was because in late August I ordered a number of William S. Burroughs books off eBay and Amazon, and Royal Mail being what it is, these took a while to arrive. However, there should have been another book arriving that never did, and it was waiting for this one that held me up. We contacted the seller after several weeks, and they sent another out. However, as I type this, I’m still waiting for either copy to turn up. Luckily, we were able to get our money back, but I was a little bit pissed about it.

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  • William S. Burroughs –  Naked Lunch     –     The Yage Letters Redux     –     Cities of the Red Night     –     The Burroughs File     –     The Western Lands     –     My Education: A Book of Dreams     –     Last Words: The Final Journals of William Burroughs

A slightly pedantic point: the edition of ‘Naked Lunch’ shown here isn’t actually the one that I ordered. The one I ordered was the one from the same series as ‘Last Words’ and the copies of ‘The Soft Machine’, ‘The Ticket that Exploded’ and ‘The Place of Dead Roads’ that I got from Oxford back in June. My wife says that she prefers this cover that came, but I’m not too sure.

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Thoughts on Donald Barthelme’s ‘Forty Stories’

Forty Stories

 

It is perhaps interesting that for me the best part of this book was the introduction written by somebody else.

*

Q: And why was this?

A: Because it was the most entertaining part and made the most sense.

*

-Surely not?

-Why yes.

-Really?

-As sure as eggs is eggs is eggs. With bacon. Fried in chocolate for the delectation of the discerning middle classes.

*

The expectation that was assumed to be in evidence was not proved to be as such when the reading actually commenced following the cesation of the previous tome which previously I have reviewed and thought upon prior to this thinking and musing and thought about, leaving the reader in no doubt as to what this reader thinks re: this forty-storey book of stories (not as tall as first thought- blame the government and the recession and the teachers on strike along with the bloody airport staff) that you may or may not have come across. Therefore the sense of what I write (along with the logic of illogical executions, randomly placed lions and latter-day saints living in apartment blocks) will either be all perfectly sensible or unknown to the extreme.

*

-So is he like Kafka?

-What?

-Kafka.

-Who?

-Kafka.

-Yes.

-How?

-They’re both dead.

-More specific…

-Is that not specific enough?

-No.

-Not like Kafka, no. More scatological and less obvious. And without the questionable presence of insects. But similar in some ways-

[insert b&w engraving of a Victorian lady in a bathing costume, a woodlouse and a Greek temple]

-Even better, let’s use a bold black circle as a discussion point. You must reference Ghandi, the Buddha and Jacques Cousteau. In any order. Your time begins once the porcupines have registered and taken their seats on the plane. Any second now…

*

Kaboom and kaballah. Bismillah and bar mitzvah. Etcetera. Etc. Et. E.

*

And so on.

And a bit more.

-Did it inform you about the present state of the state’s present president? Or Global Warming?

-No.

-Did you enjoy it?

-Ask me another question.

-Did you derive pleasure from it?

-That’s the same question.

-But different wording.

-I don’t know. Yes and no.

*

Q: Why yes?

A: Because some of the stories were interesting and surreal but in a good way.

Q: And why no?

A: Because some of the stories were unintelligible and surreal but in a bad way.

*

Some of us had been threatening our friend Colby. That was a good one. As was The temptation of St. Anthony. And Porcupines at the university. And Lightening. And Sakrete. And The genius.

*

Somebody else = Dave Eggers (as per Penguin Modern Classics edition ISBN on request. Send a postcard.)

*

I may read this book again at some point but at the present moment I know not when but I do hope to at some point as then I may learn to understand the intricacies of the many texts [40 to be more or less precise- Ed.] in this book cut and spliced from other Bartheleme books of short tales and stories and vignettes and randomness that I will never bother to read due to the bad taste and headache this volume left upon the counter next to the coffee mug i drowned my sorrows in, and which was not as good as either the cover (always judge a book by it) or the introduction (never judge a book by it) made it out to be.

*

Now go and make me an omlette using only the words on this page and the pages of fifteen separate newspapers from the day on which your favourite uncle turned into a teenager. Then tune in next time for the next exciting installment. Leave your comments and likes and etceteras below, above, behind and all around like love. Here is the author:

tentacled man

Image: Dan Hillier

Now enjoy with a selection of chocolates from around the world, presented on a seaweed platter. And don’t forget the bacon.

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The further joys of library booksales

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You may notice that this photo is decidedly un-crappy, which makes a change from the photos of my last few book-purchasing posts. This time, you can read the titles, but I will still list them anyway:

  • Ian Fleming –  Casino Royale     50p
  • C.S. Lewis –  The Great Divorce     25p
  • Graham Greene –  The Human Factor     25p
  • Donald Barthelme –  Forty Stories     25p
  • Tennessee Williams –  A Streetcar Named Desire and Other Plays     25p
  • John Steinbeck –  East of Eden     25p

As the title suggests, these were all from a library booksale (not the same one as those in previous posts)… well, ‘Casino Royale’ wasn’t. The rest were, though.

Also, we managed to get a very nice and very hefty copy of Oscar Wilde’s collected works for 25p as well, but my wonderful partner has commandeered this one. I may be able to borrow it if I ask very nicely.

The Barthelme book and the Greene book were only spotted by myself as we were leaving the library, as I happened to glance back at the table, and the former caught my eye due to the interesting cover image. I didn’t recognise the author, but recognised the title as being one I read about at the back of my Penguin Classics edition of ‘Ulysses’ and thought sounded worth getting. I’d actually forgotten about it until I saw it at the sale, and hadn’t added it to the list of classics that I want (yes, I do have a list). The fact that it was a silver-spined Penguin Classic also won me around to getting it, too. At the moment, I’m pouncing on any of the Modern Classics that I see. As an aside, this edition also raises an interesting issue (if issue is the right word), as it is in the Modern Classics series, but doesn’t have the Classics-style cover. This is similar to the recent reissues of Kafka by Penguin, and those of John Updike in the Modern Classics range: penguins-kafka-2

I’ve read some rather uncomplimentary things about these covers, but personally I quite like them myself.

A further random book-related point: these aren’t the only books I’ve had recently, but my other half has put some of my recent purchases up for Christmas, including one very special purchase that I am itching to mention, but will save for a special post at Christmas. I’ll do two them, actually- one on the books I already know about, and one on those that I don’t know the identities of.

Oh- one last point: I’ve got two more ‘Thoughts on…’ posts to get up soon- one on Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, and one on Penelope Lively’s ‘Heat Wave’. These will come soon, so please be patient!

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