Forty Stories collects forty of Donald Barthelme’s short stories, several of which originally appeared in The New Yorker. The book was first published by G. P. Forty Stories by Donald Barthelme – serious frivolity. To give somebody these genre-bending short stories is to bestow on them a new sense of. William H. Gass has written of Donald Barthelme that “he has permanently enlarged our perception of the possibilities open to short fiction.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Barthel,e Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Barthele. Preview — Forty Stories by Donald Barthelme. Forty Stories 400 Donald Barthelme. This collection of pithy, brilliantly acerbic pieces is a companion to Sixty Stories, Barthelme’s earlier retrospective volume.

Barthelme spotlights the idiosyncratic, haughty, sometimes downright ludicrous behavior of human beings, but it is style rather than content which takes precedence. PaperbackPenguin Twentieth-Century Classicspages. Published April 7th by Penguin Books first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Lists with This Book. And what, you may ask, are those two Donald Barthelme stories? Chablis and The New Owner.

Forty Stories

And I really, really, really had a blast doing the write-up of each of these yummy chocolate snappers. After sampling as per below, you might even consider picking up the entire box of forty: Our first-person narrator lets it be known quite emphatically he is happy remaining a husband and father he has an almost 2-year-old baby girlrather than becoming a husband, father and dog-owner.

But, damn, his wife says not only does she want a dog but now the baby wants a dog. One donalr to read this Barthelme shorty is as Raymond Carver parody. Bah, Bah, Black Sheep: His wife tells him the kind of dog the baby wants is a Carin terrier since a Carin barthe,me is a good Presbyterian just like herself and the baby. There were five children in my family and the males rotated the bartuelme of black sheep among us, the oldest one being the black sheep for a while while he was in his DWI period or whatever and then getting grayer as he maybe got a job or was in the service and then finally becoming a white sheep when he got married and had a grandchild.

My sister was never a black stoories because she was a girl. Although he told his wife a baby was too expensive, storirs women will wear a man down, even if it takes years, and this is exactly what happened to him.

So, he hangs around and hugs the baby named Joanna, every chance he gets.

Oh, Joanna – welcome to Carver country, even parody Carver country, where you sit around all day watching television.

Back on the dog. We sense our narrator on the cusp of a little Carver country male rage when he reflects how he can see himself walking all over their subdivision hunting down his damn runaway terrier, a little brown dog named Michael, a possibly rabid dog, a dog that might even have bitten someone in the subdivision. He sits in his second-floor den at his desk at five-thirty in the morning, looking out the window at the joggers, worrying, worrying about Joanna jamming a kitchen knife into an electric socket or worrying about Joanna eating her crayons, all the time smoking and drinking Gallo Chablis.


Gallo Chablis — at least Donald Barthelme lets his narrator drink a glass of Chablis instead of beer. Maybe our narrator is even a regular reader of the New Yorker. Well that was one time when he did something right for a change. He pats himself on the back and goes to check on the baby. The story ends here on an upbeat one of the advantages of drinking Chablis instead of beer, perhaps? Oh, no, little rent bills start appearing in the mailboxes, the rent goes up and the heat goes down.

Bicycles must be removed from the halls; shopping carts must be removed from the halls. Oh, Donald Barthelme, you have touched on one very raw nerve here. Your old super is great; he takes out the garbage, keeps the halls mopped and fixes all the things needing fixing. Was that him arguing with the new landlord at Now you have a new super you never see — garbage piles up, halls are a mess and because the new landlord stopped the extermination service, the roaches begin taking over.

No doubt about it — the new landlord wants batthelme out. The new landlord gives you and your neighbors a storiess month-to-month lease.

He places a clear plastic cover, locked, over the thermostat. You are still young and working but how about Levon and Priscilla, the old couple upstairs? Lots of fear and trembling, to be sure. May a good wind blow him to hell.

For me, this story of an evil landlord is the bare bones many other writers could use to write their own ten to twenty page stories. Donald Barthelme captures some real magic by compressing the drama into less than three pages. No wonder William H. Gass said he set the ground for an entire genre of flash fiction. View all 18 comments. Feb 20, Sentimental Surrealist rated it really liked it Shelves: Forty Things to Know About Barthelme 1.

Forty Stories by Donald Barthelme – serious frivolity | Books | The Guardian

He had a beard. He had a bad relationship with his father. His father was an architect of some renown 4. He was an experimental writer, considered by many to be among the best of his generation. Taking a sample of ten Barthelme stories, three will be genius, six will be good, one will be crap.

His more famous stories include “The Balloon,” “Me and Mrs. On point, Sixty Stories might be a slightly better collection than this. It can take time to sink into Barthelme’s rhythm, but his prose will probably hook you sooner or later. Unless you do not particularly enjoy this sort of out-there formalism. Barthelme likes to play with form. Many current writers cite him as an influence. It’s hard to put his work into a particular school.


A Barthelme story demands to be read on its own terms; it’s hard to fit him into any sort of ideology or political movement or cause-stumping. Barthelme’s stories celebrate themselves and their own language first and foremost. His pieces run short, and he’s often cited as an ancestor of the now-popular flash fiction genre.


It’s hard to imagine Lydia Davis without Donald Barthelme. Perhaps this is more of an 11a. He writes stories about everything from domestic disputes to types of angels and bodyguards. He tends instead to give dobald reader just as much information as they need to understand the story. As such, his work might seem difficult at first, but again, rhythms establish themselves.

Perhaps as a corollary to 13, it’s easy to see why some have labeled him “postmodern.

FORTY STORIES by Donald Barthelme | Kirkus Reviews

However, he also favors collages, like “At the Tolstoy Museum. His dialog is terrific. There’s either something funky going on in terms of the form or the content of his sto While the reader was promised 40 aspects of Barthelme, work on this list was not begun until shortly before its deadline, thus allowing our writer to only compile 21 complete reasons.

The management apologizes for any inconvenience this might have caused, too. I think you were a remarkably original, funny, and warm writer. But when you bounce around from topic to topic like crazy, which I get comes from your interest in jazz, it sometimes results in half-baked stories like ‘Sinbad.

You can also see this in pieces like ‘Bluebeard’ and ‘the Glass Mountain. They were also known to bounce around from topic to topic, most notably Breakfast of Champions. Sometimes it was beautiful, like with ‘Departure. I went there with the Beatles, you know. Does the experimental writer sit down at a typewriter, or a word processor, or in this modern age a computer, with the idea to write an experimental piece in their head?

Or do their pieces only reveal themselves as experiments as they write? How conscious is the experimental writer of the fact that they are experimental? When an experimental writer’s experiment fails, is it to be praised for being an experiment, or to be condemned for being a failure? Is the experimental writer an artist or a scientist?

What is the intended end result of the experimental writer’s experiments? Has the experimental writer ever considered telling the story in a conventional fashion? How many stories that begin conventionally are then made experimental by a flash of inspiration?

How many forms is the experimental writer allowed to experiment with before the stories cease to be stories? Is the experimental writer necessarily postmodern?

When is the experimental writer pretentious?