Marco Kaye's Reviews > Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures by Donald Barthelme
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May 17, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

A hit or miss collection of miscellany.

Don B. comes clean in the intro. "The first third [of the book] are parodies. One always apologizes for writing parodies; it is a disreputable activity, ranking only a little higher on the scale of literary activity than plagiarism. A minimum demand is that what is parodied be widely successful—a tulip craze of some sort. This gives the parodist the luxury of being able to feel that he is doing useful work."

The problem with that is one decade's tulip craze doesn't always interest the next, and though there were only a few political parodies, they haven't aged well. I did enjoy that "L'Lapse" was included, Barthelme's first New Yorker piece and a parody of L'Aventura, which was funny whether or not you're an Antonioni buff.

One of my favorite pieces was "Helitrope," which reads as an ultra liberal university course catalogue. "Let's Hear It For the Ed Sullivan Show!" was a shot-for-shot transcript of the show, if the transcriptor was drunk. Another good one was "The Photographs," in which two scientists argued over the first photos taken of the human soul (dutifully printed in the book).

I'm looking forward to reading The Dead Father next.
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04/04/2016 marked as: read

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