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Preview — The Dead Father by Donald Barthelme
The Dead Father
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This book could be the novel such an alien could have written.
I have never read anything like it before.
Ascending the granite steps of the grand city library, a library sharing space with a museum, fossilized dinosaurs can be seen in the rows of fiction behind the glass walls. Been dead for while. Jill Hill and Thad Dade carry books towards the book return box.
What’s that thin sliver book?
It’s The Dead Father.
The Dead Father, is he a zombie?
No just dead but alive.
Dead but alive, then he’s a zombie.
No, he’s giant.
I don’t fallow.
You don’t fallow.
It’s Post Modern. He’s dead in a different sense, i...more
Most of the book, I thought was a 3-star deal, mainly because I found some of the sections (particularly the long moments when Emma and Julie talked to each other) to be borderline incomprehensible, and while I'm sure Barthelme knew exactly what he was doing, it was one of those situations where I was holding a book in my hands and processing words and then feeling stupid. And maybe I was too dense to understand what was going on, but regar...more
This is the story of a son & his...more
The Dead Father is the story of your everyday, average funeral procession for a 200 foot tall father figure who's bloodlust and libido have not been quelled by death. Barthelme comically relates the influence that Greco-Roman and Judao-Christian traditions have had on literature and life in the occidental world.. The more the narrative tries to free itself of these cosmologies the harder they pull them back into the fold.
The protagonists and their entourage painstakingly drag the "dead" father t...more
A lively work of postmodernism.
Postmodern literature is always difficult to review as it is often the author’s purpose to stray from conventional methods of writing. The Dead Father was not my first experience with Postmodernism. I have read a few other works within the hard-to-define genre, including works by the author that comes up in many searches on the topic: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I will say that in my small, yet expanding...more
Mid-70s Barthelme had just the right contemporary counterculture approach to faintly Dada-ist allegory to impress my teenage self mightily. On a subsequent reading in adulthood, it seemed a bit facile, but on what I expect to be the final go-round (ars longa, vita brevis and all that), it returns to 80% satisfactory.
The Father in question is mainly He of the Judeo-Christian tradition but wit...more
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...the embarrassment of sending away those I didn't want, the pain of sending away those I did want, out into the lifestream...more
I suppose it's blatantly "postmodern" -- by golly, what better time to write a postmodern work than the 1970s? Of course, if you're not a fan of consciously postmodern writing, you might not enjoy the work. It's not going to honor the dead, that's for certain - Barthelme is excellent at vilifying most paradigms, so he's liable to upset certain folks. Take this on if...more
There's also a smaller book on fathers, have to admit that it was fun but a head scratcher too.
Please, Donald, show some mercy.
"So fucking vulgar you wouldn't believe it." (p. 89)
(Andererseits: Wenn der tote Vater nun eine Mischung aus halbmechanischem Zombie und gottgleicher Metapher für das Vaterdasein ist, Thomas und Julie quasi Adam und Eva in einer Inzestbeziehung sind, somit die alttestamentarische Trinität in Form einer Gottesfigur nebst Schöpfung #1 und #2 hergestellt wird, was ist dann das Ziel ihrer Reise? The Gold...more
“The Dead Father”
Published 1975 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The literal story of Donald Barthelme‘s “The Dead Father” is that 21 people are pulling an immensely huge man by means of a cable attached to his leg across the ground. This man is only referred to as the Dead Father, though he is very much alive. He walks, he talks, he kills things with his sword—-he is described as having a mechanical leg which is “the administrative center of his operations“, bein...more
Barthelme hits every note just so, commenting in perfect pitch o...more
Some great language: "roratorious and filled with furious joy", "... and every living thing within his reach trembled and every dead thing within his reach remembered how it got that way" etc.
Also hilarious caps to absurd stories and tangents. For example, the Dead Father rambles for two pages in a nonsensical speech. I was asking myself if Barthelme was c...more
Oh yes, Thomas said, he has something. I would not dream of denying it.
Authority. Fragile, yet present. He is like a bubble you do not wish to burst.
But remember there was a time when he was slicing people's ears off with a wood chisel. Two-inch blade. And remember thee was a time when his voice, his plain unamplified voice, could turn your head inside out.
Hunkwash, she said, you are perpetuating myths.
The Dead Father is a gigantic man in long golden robes (...more
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The Dead Father resting with his two hands on the hilt of his sword, which was planted in the red and steaming earth.
My anger, he said proudly.
Then the Dead Father sheathing his sword pulled from his trousers his ancient prick and pissed upon the dead artists, severally and together, to the best of his ability-four minutes, or one pint.
Impressive, said Julie, had they not been pure cardboard.
My dear, said Thomas, you deal too harshly with him.
I have the greatest possible respect for him and for what he represents, said Julie, let us proceed.”