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Book Title: City Life|
The author of the book: Donald Barthelme
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2312 times
Reader ratings: 3.3
Date of issue: May 3rd 1978
ISBN 13: 9780671823047
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 540 KB
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I was at a party in Manhattan once, it was 1985. This woman I slightly knew turned to me and said “I have something you’ll be interested in, wait one moment.” So I waited. I was cool. I wasn’t freaking out. She brought back a thing about the size of a large Toby jug and thrust it into my hands. It was Donald Barthelme. Yes, the Donald Barthelme. Not a Toby jug caricature, the actual original author of all those arch short stories. Tell you the truth, I was nonplussed, like if she had thrust a sizeable cat into my arms. What was Barthelme going to do? Would he wriggle out of my arms and embarrass me? Would he find my clumsy embrace pleasant, like a day trip to York minster or a chicken korma? Would he transfer his affections to me? I have to admit I was madly calculating if he was rich like Updike, but I figured from the state of his suit and shoes that no, the New Yorker liked him but not that much.
Well, I kind of shuffled around talking to people, like you do at these things, and each time I’d say look, this is Donald Barthelme, and my fellow guests would wrinkle their noses and make silly comments like “it’s clear you were meant for each other” etc. Barthelme himself was fairly drunk and was contented with swivelling his intense glare from my face to that of my interlocutor, depending on who was speaking. That is, he glared at whoever wasn’t speaking at any one time. I guess these writers have all these cool ways of observing people. But he also made a point to staring at all the women's cleavages, which was really quite gross. Some close observation is frankly intrusive and when he started openly guessing - "34D yeah", "32A awww" - it was time to leave.
It turned out that Gina had been trying to get rid of Donald Barthelme for weeks and nobody would take him. I was the only idiot too polite to give him back. So he came home with me. To be honest, by 1985 his great days were over (ha, did you get that?). He coughed out one rather dodgy novel the following year (Paradise) and he was working on another one when I just got sick of looking after him. I’m not proud of what I did. I didn’t know he was terminally ill. It was 1987 so, you know, I’d been funnelling whisky down his gullet and managing his various marriages and divorces for two whole years. I was tired, I wanted my own life back. So one day I just shoved him in the trunk of my car and drove up to Poughkeepsie and left him outside the first library I could find. He didn’t seem that bothered. He was a cool ironist to the last, gotta give him that.
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Read information about the authorDonald Barthelme was born to two students at the University of Pennsylvania. The family moved to Texas two years later, where Barthelme's father would become a professor of architecture at the University of Houston, where Barthelme would later major in journalism. In 1951, still a student, he wrote his first articles for the Houston Post. Barthelme was drafted into the Korean War in 1953, arriving in Korea on July 27, the very day the cease-fire ending the war was signed. He served briefly as the editor of an Army newspaper before returning to the U.S. and his job at the Houston Post. Once back, he continued his studies at the University of Houston, studying philosophy. Although he continued to take classes until 1957, he never received a degree. He spent much of his free time in Houston’s “black” jazz clubs, listening to musical innovators such as Lionel Hampton and Peck Kelly, an experience which influenced his later writing.
Barthelme's relationship with his father was a struggle between a rebellious son and a demanding father. In later years they would have tremendous arguments about the kinds of literature in which Barthelme was interested and wrote. While in many ways his father was avant-garde in art and aesthetics, he did not approve of the post-modern and deconstruction schools. Barthelme's attitude toward his father is delineated in the novels The Dead Father and The King as he is pictured in the characters King Arthur and Lancelot. Barthelme's independence also shows in his moving away from the family's Roman Catholicism (his mother was especially devout), a separation that troubled Barthelme throughout his life as did the distance with his father. He seemed much closer to his mother and agreeable to her strictures.
Barthelme went on to teach for brief periods at Boston University, University at Buffalo, and the College of the City of New York, where he served as Distinguished Visiting Professor from 1974-75. He married four times. His second wife, Helen Barthelme, later wrote a biography entitled Donald Barthelme: The Genesis of a Cool Sound, published in 2001. With his third wife Birgit, a Dane, he had his first child, a daughter named Anne, and near the end of his life he married Marion, with whom he had his second daughter, Kate. Marion and Donald remained wed until his 1989 death from throat cancer. Donald Barthelme's brothers Frederick (1943 - ) and Steven (1947- ) are also respected fiction writers and teachers at The University of Southern Mississippi.
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