Paradise
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Paradise

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  325 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Simon, a middle-aged architect separated from his wife, is given the chance to live out a stereotypical male fantasy: freed from the travails of married life, he ends up living with three nubile lingerie models who use him as a sexual object.

Set in the 1980s, there's a further tension between Simon's desire to exploit this stereotypical fantasy and his (as well as the auth...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1986)
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Jimmy
This was Barthelme's thirteenth book. I get the impression that maybe I should have started with something a little more essential, but this was a quick, fun read.

An aging architect named Simon is recently divorced from his wife. One night at a bar he catches the tail end of a lingerie show, and makes friendly with three models from Colorado. Without much explanation as to the why or how of it, Barthelme throws them all in Simon's large apartment in New York City, where they all share a rather q...more
James
Barthelme is able to take a story about a middle-aged male professor who moves in with three statuesque lingerie models and completely drain it of anything resembling boomer wankery or misogynist pining. For maximum enjoyment, picture the three girls as the three cutest members of The Like. I'll leave it up to you to decide who gets cut.
Jason Jordan
During my stint as book reviewer here at decomP, I've tried to limit my reviews to contemporary writings such as books published within the last 10 years. However, sometimes I find it necessary to visit a few older entries, and Donald Barthelme's Paradise (Dalkey Archive Press, 1986) is one novel that definitely warrants attention. Ever the prolific writer, Barthelme published several novels and collections during his lifespan, with this specific release arriving about three years before his dea...more
Jeremiah Tillman
I think of time a lot whenever I read anything by Don B. It's mostly because I think time, in a few different extrapolations—philosophical and/or banal, factor its way into Barthelme's fiction. Most of the time it's in the sequence of Barthelme's short stories. X happened first, then a few sentences later Y happened. It's a building block method, with each action piling on top off one another, like in the story 'A Shower of Gold' or 'Chablis'. Although I had never read a novel by Barthelme befor...more
wally
"...he found a red wrinkled bra hanging like a cut throat over the shower rail and not knowing what else to do with it, threw that out too."

i enjoy barthelme...what's that commercial...guy gets slapped....with aftershave is it? thanks...i needed that...


yeah, so this guy, simon, who is like 53, finds himself living w/three lingerie models who gave all their money, $3000 buckeroose i guess, to stop african hunger....and i saw something in the local rag, some guys in the saviour of the seas land ca...more
Mateo
I like Donald Barthelme. I like Donald Barthelme because he made it acceptable for Serious Modern Fiction to be funny, goofy even, even nutty. I like that he was doing serious work while, basically, making it look like he was goofing around, doodling in class. Despite the best efforts of Updike, Vonnegut, Pynchon, and a few others, modern fiction has too often been a depressing, gray pond full of dissolving suburban marriages, broken up by the occasional oppressed Third World orphan. So it's a p...more
John
A bit hard to know where to begin in commenting about this novel. It was a glimpse into everyman's erotic-middleage-crisis-dream written in a non-linear free flowing James Joyce like style, with much of the thematic material advanced thru choppy dialogue.
In this book, Simon, an adulterous 53 year old architect recently seperated from his wife and is taking a sabbitical from work in NYC when out of nowhere he meets and invites to live with him three linegerie models. A bit stereotypically, he e...more
John Pappas
This wild, absurd ride can only be piloted by the inimitable Don B., and the weird mix of hi-jinx and pathos could only be concocted by the self-same post-modern mixmaster. An architect on sabbatical attempts to restart his life after his wife leaves him by co-habitating with three lingerie models. What results is like Three's Company on crack, as Barthelme sends up 1980s sexual and gender politics, and the relationship of the artist to his subject, craft and audience. Funny, deftly ironic and h...more
Danielle
While I liked this less than The Dead Father I still found it quite rewarding. Barthelme is excellent with his characterization of involved and yet detached people - check this work out if you are bored of reading about overly unified and perfect fictional characters. The folks in this story will not save the world, but they do live in it and deal with it. It's nice to see the relationship between men and women in a slightly different light than I usually do -- this book, hm, simplifies things,...more
Kevin Hinman
Barthelme, in mad genius mode as always, expounds on relationships, midlife-crises, and post-Vietnam America via the Old Testament (Barthelme's Old Testament - part Bible, part forgotten movies and pop songs). Simon, the (un)lucky protagonist, finds himself boarding with three nubile women, but the plot is more or less a shell for Paradise's hilarious vignettes of psychology sessions, childhood musings, and domestic bedlam. A quick read, no doubt, but poignant and immensely gratifying.
Henry
Wow, this book is nutty. Don B must go into a white-wine-with-ice-cubes trance before he starts writing his novels on packages of cocktail napkins. How is it he puts his finger so deftly on the pressure point that we, the people, find so hard to find? The point that contains our national melancholy and creeping fear. The point of getting old, but not getting any wiser... just more nutty, and alittle dirty.
Richard
Ah, The Barthelme...

Only a master such as this can take a book full of over-the-top sexuality and make it ring with sadness and also such great humor. D. Barthelme also has an ear for sentences like no one else--not my favorite book of his, but still floating well above a sea full of others striving for what he seems to easily accomplish.
Christa
Strange book. I've only read a short story of his before, but I liked his disjointed style and I decided to see what else he's got under his belt. This book was a little too formless for me and a little too convoluted in places, but it had its funny moments. He's quite adept with words.
Josiah Miller
I feel this might be Barthelme's most mature novel, yet it fails to disappoint. The dialogue still reminds me of birds chirping. This might be one of his most character driven novels. To strive to live my life like a Barthelme novel might be most achievable with Paradise.
Dan
It is one of Barthelme’s more linear fictions. The chapters employing free direct discourse are tenseless, thus seem to represent events in the present, as opposed to chapters in which narratorial discourse employs past and sometimes present tense to describe actions.
Matthew Novak
I love the short chapters. It keeps the story moving fluidly and makes it a real page turner. It really moved me in the fact that there was an underlying melancholy just below the surface, and the humor is sharp and clever. Barthelme is very underrated.
Sean Pagaduan
This isn't the same off-the-wall experimental groundbreaking stuff that Don's known for. It's way different from most fiction, sure, but it's also way toned down from his other works. Flip through the first five pages and see if it's to your liking.
Werebot
Dec 14, 2007 Werebot rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one.
Oh, Don B, how could you write something so pretentious and crappy? About a guy who lives with and beds three models, no less. This book made me want to give Barthelme the Colby treatment.
Eric T. Voigt
The most subdued? Barthelme I've read. The tangents are tangential, but they aren't as off the wall. The plot is the off the wall part, majoritily. Still, obviously, SO GOOD.
Sara
Aug 09, 2010 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, humor
Wow! This is one of my new favorite books. Soooooo good! I liked this a lot better than snow white. I want to read sixty stories next, then the dead father.
Ross
Interesting enough to keep reading. Sort of an existential wandering through four lives....some interesting ideas but nothing amazing.
Jason
Jul 09, 2008 Jason added it
So easy to read and so good. Sadness of life getting older and beautiful women--Barthelme staples.
Jez Latham
probably my favourite current author. says a lot with a few choice phrases. ideal writing.
Geoffrey
A surprisingly conventional narrative, by Barthelmanian standards, but still pretty marvelous.
Thomas Wong
There are scenes from this book that will sit in your brain for weeks.
Jason ("jcreed")
A bit of an indulgent exercise in stereotypical male fantasy, but well-written.
Jacob
A middle-aged man finds himself living in a beer commercial.
Greg Converse
Be careful what you wish for, and whom you ask to grant it.
Darby Larson
fun with barthelme, quick read
Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2014
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Donald 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...more
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