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Come Back, Dr. Caligari

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  435 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
In 1964, Barthelme collected his early stories in Come Back, Dr. Caligari, for which he received considerable critical acclaim as an innovator of the short story form. His style (fictional and popular figures in absurd situations, e.g., the Batman-inspired "The Joker's Greatest Triumph"), spawned a number of imitators and would help to define the next several decades of sh ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Little Brown & Co (P) (first published 1964)
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Paul Bryant
May 15, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Donald Barthelme was the high priest of post-modern literary weirdness but he never suffered for it. Five minutes after relocating to New York from Houston he was signed up by The New Yorker and remained its darling boy until he died. He was the outsider on the inside. The rest of those American avant gardists must have ground their teeth and chanted sellout sellout as they burned effigies of him in some abandoned lot on 12th Street, but hell, he couldn’t care, he was busy getting slaughtered wi ...more
Aug 22, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
This is Barthelme's first collection of short fiction and in the opening story the author pens this: "The aim of literature is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart." And that's just the half of it, because when Don is finished with this strange object it will be shorn, painted blue, dressed in gold lamé and made to sing the theme song to Love Boat everytime someone brings commemorative stamps into the shed.
Vit Babenco
Mar 27, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
Absurdity is in abundance…
“You may not be interested in absurdity but absurdity is interested in you.”
Family life is absurd…
“Oh Hubert, why did you give me that damn baby? Paul I mean? Didn't you know he was going to grow?”
Science is absurd…
“Do you want to talk about phenomenological reduction now? Or do you want a muffin?”
Beauty is absurd…
“I wonder how I might become slightly more pleasing to the eye? Rosemarie asked. Perhaps I should tattoo myself attractively?”
Art is absurd…
“The piece in hand
Krok Zero
Nov 03, 2008 Krok Zero rated it really liked it
Shelves: fall-2008
The good stuff is great, the other stuff is impenetrable. Complicating this is the fact that the great stuff and the impenetrable stuff often coexist within the same story, or even the same paragraph. It's kind of a package deal, with Barthelme. Fortunately most all of the stuff (both good/great and other/impenetrable) is funny, so even the impenetrable stuff will often make you laugh (and the great stuff will stun you into laughless silence due to your awe at Barthelme's weird brilliance). Also ...more
Mar 22, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are wondering about absurdism and postmodernism and are tired of looking dumb at dinner parties, I recommend reading this book. You are going to learn all about the cat-piano and about Batman's friend Fredric who comes over on most Tuesday nights. This knowledge will change you, even if the change is just being itchy.
Charles Martin
Oct 17, 2010 Charles Martin rated it really liked it
Four stars might be a bit of an exaggeration given the unevenness of the gathered stories tenuously bound to the printed pages of this unorthodox book, but Barthelme's bravado has made a believer out of me. Weary readers take solace in this fact: this collection will grow on you. Literature is most potent when it alters the temporal reality of the reader. Consider this collection of short stories to be an invitation - a provocation, really - toward a universe quite unlike the one around you, and ...more
Mar 29, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it
The older I get the more I realize that by reading Barthelme at 15 years old without actually understanding him, but for whatever reason continuing to read him steadily for the next decade, he has become a pretty prominent influence; my understanding of Barthelme is almost exactly parallel to my understanding of serious fiction in general.
Miguel Jiménez
Este libro tiene las historias con más elementos combinados entre sí, más trozos de situaciones independientes en un mismo relato, más irónico y más incongruente que he leído de Donald Barthelme. Se podría decir que una obra un tanto compleja. En su mayoría son así las historias, aunque no todas.

Al hablar de él siempre se le menciona como «Un postmodernista que utilizaba las técnicas del collage y la parodia para escribir», dejando de lado lo que(¡creo tenía la intención!) también le interesaba
Has someone else already written this exact review? If so, I apologize.

" . . . at long last, for better or for worse, the Absurd has in these pages been equated with the Goofy. Hardly one of the 14 stories ends without a wry twist proclaiming that even its metaphysical protest has been all in fun." - The New York Times. This is a blurb from the back of my edition.

Whoever wrote that ought to have been asked to stop reviewing literature and start reviewing tires or blenders.
David Enos
Nov 30, 2007 David Enos rated it it was amazing
I'd always seen the cover around, with the beard and glasses but never read it untill college. The Batman story. Some of it is kind of annoyingly "cute" but most are incredibly well-constructed. They fool you into one kind of mood then switch to something else towards the end. 'Snow White' is another good one he did, also any of his other short story collections.
Mar 17, 2012 Deanne rated it liked it
A series of short stories, some again very good and some seem so far out of left field, do wonder if this is due to my age. I'm 40 today, maybe you have to have been around in the 60's to understand some of what Barthelme seems to be writing about, or maybe I haven't done enough drugs.
van toom
Absurd and fun.
Harambe Lives
Sep 22, 2016 Harambe Lives rated it did not like it
only 25% of it read i found it hard for this book to keep may attention and did not like how the story changed. i skimmed through the book and could not follow the story. i then went into my garage and found a very interesting book called "go big or go home" and will be doing my booktalk on it. i dropped "Come Back, Dr. Caligari" and picked up "go big or go home" i read this book in about a week and was interesting and was a very smooth book.
Aug 25, 2011 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca
Donald Barthelme richiede ispirazione, non lo si può leggere nei ritagli di tempo.

E’ necessario quindi trovare o aspettare il momento giusto e solo allora cominciare uno dei suoi libri.

Questo in particolare contiene 14 racconti molto diversi tra loro, tanto che è difficile farne un quadro generale .

Lo stile di scrittura è apparentemente semplice, fatto spesso di dialoghi e quasi mai di lunghe spiegazioni.

Un racconto di Barthelme è in realtà una lunga serie di frecciate che arrivano all’improvvis
"E poi, quando si fece buio, ci fu la nostra lite serale. Una lite molto banale, credo proprio. L'argomento, che era stato da te annunciato a colazione e affisso nella bacheca delle informazioni, era Piccolezza nel maschio. Tu sostenevi che lo avevo fatto apposta, ma io ribattei che era stata mancanza di nutrimento adatto durante l'adolescenza. Persi, come era giusto che fosse naturalmente, e tu dicesti che non avevo diritto alla minestra. Mi ero già ingozzato, tu dicesti, di gelato al lampone. ...more
Andrew Boomhower
Nov 07, 2014 Andrew Boomhower rated it really liked it
I still have a few stories left to read, so I probably shouldn't be writing a review yet, but the last few readings of this book have made an impression on me that I can't ignore. Barthelme is always cited as an influence among writers I admire, so I was a little put off by the strangeness and general inaccessibility present in the early stories; I mean, I expected something elusive and mildly difficult, but most of the stories at the beginning of the collection are just mysterious. But then I r ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
Barthelme at his best is weird and wonderful.
Try “The Piano Player”, a four page miniature, and tell me: doesn’t this make your synapses fire in a way they never did before?
And his writing doesn’t need to be “experimental” to be fantastic, some of the best stories in this collection are exceedingly simple. “Miss Mandible and me”, for instance, in which a thirty-five year old guy finds himself in sixth grade again, or ” Marie, Marie, hold on tight”, my very favorite, in which a demonstration ag
David Foresi
Jan 14, 2013 David Foresi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non è una raccolta di racconti facile quella di Barthelme. È come un viaggio in una sorta di ottovolante della letteratura. In alcuni racconti non è facile entrare, in altri si è facilmente inghiottiti e se ne esce storditi. Tutti i racconti però hanno qualcosa di unico, stravagante, stra-ordinario. Qualcosa che non ha definizione né catalogazione. Una letteratura che non segue schemi ma che li crea e li distrugge ad ogni parola. Per chi ama la parola e l'invenzione e non cerca solo una storia.
Javier Jiménez
Hay algunas historias a las que me fue realmente complicado encontrarles algun sentido. Sin duda el estilo de Barthelme es muy peculiar y no apto para todo público. A pesar de leer con esfurzo algunos de estos relatos, otros como "Fugitivo" y "¿En el barco?" son cuentos que disfruté bastante y seguramente permaneceran en mi memoria por buen tiempo.
Catherine Clinch
I fell in love with Donald Barthelme while I was in college. Not the man himself - his writing. On rainy winter Saturdays in New York City, I would curl up with a bottle of cheap red wine and a collection of Barthelme short stories. He is one of the strongest inspirations I had in deciding to become a writer.
Jan 02, 2008 Jessica rated it it was ok
I read this on the flight to Texas, while seated next to a screaming infant. That combined with the drone of the engine was appropriate background noise while reading this. Uncomfortable and surreal.
Jul 18, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
By far the greatest collection of short stories from Donald Barthelme. I believe this was actually my introduction to his work and it immediately sent me on a never-ending quest for everything he has ever written. Paperbacks have always been hard to find and almost impossible in hard cover 1st ed.
David Malantic
Oct 10, 2011 David Malantic rated it it was amazing
Read this in college. Some of his most traditional work, at times wry and ironic and sometimes prosaic, but always intelligent. I read much of 60 Stories and 40 Stories, as well as his novel Snow White, but always wished for the return of the more modernist work in this compilation
Jul 18, 2007 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
some long time ago. browsing in an old dusty used bookstore i came upon this little jewel with it's weird but brilliant edward gorey cover. then the words! this was my introduction to donald barthelme and nothing has been the same since.
Ultra Kwon
Sep 29, 2016 Ultra Kwon rated it really liked it
Mind-expanding and insightful when the prose is transparent. Good-for-nothing and aloof when it's too secretive.
Aug 23, 2008 Zalman rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in post-modern fiction
Early Barthelme, great fun! Another reviewer referred to this book as "uncomfortable and surreal". I couldn't agree more - that's what I keep going back to Barthelme for.
Mar 12, 2009 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Shelves: new-yorker
As seen in The New Yorker .
Hari Brandl
May 06, 2015 Hari Brandl rated it liked it
Quirky stories. Not sure I understood them, but I did enjoy most of them. Probably will read up on him before I read any more of what he has written.
Nov 30, 2016 Rick rated it liked it
Donald Barthelme writes in a schizophrenic code
which can best be appreciated when hallucinating,
defibrillating or sound asleep.
This is it folk. It's my favorite collection of Barthelme's. It's difficult to find now but can be purchased along with a great many other stories in the posthumously released Flying To America.
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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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“The aim of literature ... is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart.” 1078 likes
“The aim of literature," Baskerville replied grandly, "is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart.” 9 likes
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