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Unspeakable Practices

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  271 ratings  ·  29 reviews
"Fragments are the only forms I trust" is one fat clue the reader might net as to the run of the current in these strange, witty, surreal short stories.

At first bewildered glance, each piece seems a montage of floating, congruent, non-congruent, time-dandling events, words, things; a montage of meaningless (for the moment) souvenirs. A mammoth balloon is inflated over the
Published January 1st 1968 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Questo è un libro cui è impossibile assegnare stelle. Sono 15 brevi racconti assurdi, privi di una struttura narrativa, che colgono attimi di vita e la reinterpretano secondo l’occhio visionario dello scrittore, considerato il padre della letteratura post moderna americana. Faccio degli esempi, per far capire: nel racconto “Robert Kennedy salvato dalle acque”, il senatore americano è rappresentato con “berretto nero, mantellina nera e spada”, uno Zorro moderno. Nel primo racconto della raccolta, ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
Donald Barthelme Saved From Drowning

Blargle McGargle & the Infinite Whininess

As Frank Black tells us at the start of "Monkey Gone to Heaven" (everyone sing along now: "THIS MONKEY'S GAAAAHN TO HEAV-UN!") "there was a guy." This guy accused Rick Moody of being the worst writer of his generation. I don't remember his name, and even though I'll have to look the guy's article up to get the quote I'll need in a second, I'm still calling him Blargle McGargle and nothing you can do will change that
Igor S
In the midst of so much dysfunction, function is interesting.

I am, as I say, not entirely sympathetic. Certain things about the new President are not clear. I can’t make out what he is thinking. When he has finished speaking I can never remember what he has said. There remains only an impression of strangeness, darkness...

A great collection. As seems to be normally the case with Barthelme, some of the stories are too cryptic/over my head for my liking but when they work, they work admiringly. Th
The Balloon is now my very favorite short story of all time.
It's only simple on the surface.

My second favorite story in the book is Can We Talk.
Best narrative use of artichokes ever.

There is so much to love in this collection of stories. The author uses common colors as adjectives so skillfully that they lend substance to the story, making it almost tangible. This use of colors may sound obvious, but I've very rarely read a book where this was done so well.

When asked how i decided to purchase a
Jack Waters
I love Donald Barthelme. His writing has a big influence on mine. His story "The Balloon" is remarkable and shows why writing is fun and gorgeous and inspiring.
Jan 09, 2008 Zalman rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans/students of postmodern/experimental fiction
Quintessential Barthelme, this is his second collection of short fictions, which includes the classic "Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning". That story appeared in the April 1968 issue (#3) of the New American Review, only a couple of months before Kennedy's assassination. I happened on a used copy of NAR #3 about a year later, and this little "story" of Barthelme's simply blew me away. I hadn't yet become acquainted with other experimentalists of the time, so "Robert Kennedy" was like nothing el ...more
Sono 15 brevi racconti assurdi, privi di una struttura narrativa, che colgono attimi di vita e la reinterpretano secondo l’occhio visionario dello scrittore, considerato il padre della letteratura post moderna americana. Faccio degli esempi, per far capire: nel racconto “Robert Kennedy salvato dalle acque”, il senatore americano è rappresentato con “berretto nero, mantellina nera e spada”, uno Zorro moderno. Nel primo racconto della raccolta, “la rivolta degli indiani”, troviamo una città americ ...more
This early Barthelme collection contains the incomparable "Game", the story that first introduced me to Barthelme's wild and wonderful works. The story is just as impressive in print as it is read by David Strathairn, the way I first encountered it via a "Selected Shorts" podcast. "Game" is simultaneously an immaculate character portrait, a wordy delight, a brilliant comedy, and a haunting exploration of not just man's devastating powers but also his true fallibility. In my mind this story blows ...more
I loved this book. It really turned my head around, or, as we said back in the old days, blew my mind.
Marco Kaye
"I wrote poppycock, sometimes cockypap," says the narrator of "See the Moon?" And that explains a lot. But the cockypap is great, though if you don't like it, don't bother.

I loved the story "Robert Kennedy Saved From Drowning," which is made up of sections whose subjects are ways of looking at Kennedy. In the section called, "Attitude towards his work," the narrator says, "Sometimes I can't seem to do anything. The work is there, piled up, it seems to me an insurmountable obstacle....Then, in a
From "This Newspaper Here": "Again today the little girl come along come along dancing doggedly with her knitting needle steel-blue knitting needle. She knows I can't get up out of this chair theoretically and sticks me, here and there, just to make me yell, nice little girl from down the block somewhere. Once I corrected her sharply saying 'don't for God's sake what pleasure is there hearing me scream like this?' She was wearing a blue Death of Beethoven printed dress and white shoes which mama ...more
Lawren Hyder
"Strings of language extend in every direction to bind the world into a rushing, ribald whole."
Early short stories by Barthelme about different subjects including the Vietnam War, contemporary art, politics, love and fatherhood. Included is the frequently anthologized “Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning,” a great pastiche of the “profile” articles that appear in glossy magazines like Life and Time. In some of the fictions, the narrative techniques are experimental (“A Picture History of the War,” “Edward and Pia,” “Alice); in others, while the narrative techniques are more conventional, t ...more
Krok Zero
I dunno, man. Barthelme is one of those writers I should love, in theory. In this collection I did love "The Balloon" and thought a few other stories were interesting or funny—"Report," "The Police Band," and "Game." But the others...I don't know. Too inscrutable for me. I've read a few other scattered Barthelme stories and really liked them, so this won't be the last collection of his that I read. But half of these stories were uphill battles, and kind of not worth the struggle. Everyone should ...more
chaos is tasty AND USEFUL TOO
Terzo tentativo di leggere Barthelme decisamente fallito, nonostante lui sia uno degli scrittori che ha ispirato DFW e DWF decisamente mi piace. Evidentemente il sillogismo non sempre funziona. Brevi sprazzi che ogni tanto mi hanno incoraggiato a continuare la lettura, ma niente di più. Cosa ci sia tra noi che non faccia funzionare a dovere il rapporto ancora non me lo spiego, ma non riesco a vedere la genialità in quel che leggo, mi lascia fredda, spesso trovo i racconti inconcludenti.
Jonathan McNamara
This book tumbles the words out of it. A strange prose style makes it sometimes a little difficult to follow the image projection. This writer is phenomenal at cutting close; flawed contradictions sung with unflailing emotive power. Another, on the other hand, might view the stories as being almost unnecessary for the telling. Neither mawkish or sentimental, of almost crude powerful construction. It is a little book of unanticipated rewards that follow on and onwards.
Jim O'Loughlin
The story, "The Balloon" was a life changer for me when I first read it. Even more than I suspect Barthelme realized, it points the way toward a postmodern culture. Anyone on Goodreads or Facebook should be able to see the connection between the balloon and social networking.

The rest of the collection is more experimentally postmodern, not that there's anything wrong with that. It just didn't do it for me as much.
"Partita", "Questo giornale qui", "Il pallone" (ovviamente)... tralasciando il gusto personale (puro piacere, per la cronaca), mi pare impossibile fare a meno di un libro così. Tutta o quasi la migliore letteratura degli anni successivi gli è debitrice. E, in molti casi, questa raccolta di racconti è ancora abbondantemente in credito.
Elena Politi
Alcuni racconti sono troppo sperimentali, altri mi lasciano indifferente. Quelli che valgono: Il pallone, Robert Kennedy salvate dalle acque, la banda della polizia, Partita. La rivolta degli Indiani è affascinante, ma grazie forse un po' troppo
Catherine Clinch
Barthelme dances on the fine line between reality and absurdity with such finesse that every one of his stories is like going on a magical ride inside the mind of someone who is always three steps ahead of the rest of us.
I can't recommend this as a whole, but several of the stories were excellent. In particular I liked Game (full text: ) and Report.
Just a book I picked up at a book swap, seemed interesting and it was.
My favorite story was Alice, fragmented sentences and wild punctuation…
Sean Pagaduan
"The School", "Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning", and "Game" are the best stories in this collection. Everything else is a miss.
Mike Ingram
Not quite as good as Come Back, Dr. Caligari, though I liked the story about the balloon a lot.
Jeffrey Ottem
shorts stories i actually give a shit about.
edward e pia, cazzo. scusate, edward e pia.
Onirico. Seguirà recensione più approfondita.
Great stuff. Read it!
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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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“I wanted to say a certain thing to a certain man, a certain true thing that had crept into my head. I opened my head, at the place provided, and proceeded to pronounce the true thing that lay languishing there—that is, proceeded to propel that trueness, that felicitous trularity, from its place inside my head out into world life. The certain man stood waiting to receive it. His face reflected an eager accepting-ness. Everything was right. I propelled, using my mind, my mouth, all my muscles. I propelled. I propelled and propelled. I felt trularity inside my head moving slowly through the passage provided (stained like the caves of Lascaux with garlic, antihistamines, Berloiz, a history, a history) toward its debut on the world stage. Past my teeth, with their little brown sweaters knitted of gin and cigar smoke, toward its leap to critical scrutiny. Past my lips, with their tendency to flake away in cold weather—” 2 likes
“I spoke to Sylvia. "Do you think this is a good life?” 1 likes
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