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Paradise

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  461 Ratings  ·  37 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
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 30th 1986 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jimmy
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jim
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
You'd think a book about a middle-aged architect cohabiting with a harem of three models would be Paradise itself, but in the end I was disappointed in the garden. I didn't much care for the dialogue, in fact, didn't really even care for the premise. I wasn't all that impressed with the writing either. It is a quick read, and it has some funnier moments, and it kind of represented some of the lifestyles engaged in during that era. Almost like he was having a midlife fantasy, and decided to write ...more
Jason Jordan
Mar 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Henry
Sep 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sarah
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
meh
Realini
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
Paradise by Donald Barthelme
Strange and interesting book. Rather short, otherwise I might not have finished it, for it is entertaining enough for a short format, not sufficient for an epic novel.

- Is this about Paradise?
- You bet it is, for:
- A fifty three years old man lands three stunning young models in his apartment to…live with him
- What else can beat that?
- And yet, this is a strange heaven, described in a modernistic, if fortunately not altogether absurd manner
The characters are- Simon, t
...more
Mateo
Sep 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book reads like an afternoon reverie, is it transpiring or just the kindest of fantasies? While not likely to supplant the necessary core collectible that is Sixty Stories, this is my favorite of the great comic writer's novels. Modest, absurd and imperturbable in its art, the novel is tinged with a male menopausal sadness. The novel virtually drifts away, in a cloud of jokes and resigned wisdom, like a favorite uncle who no longer visits.

Better, though, with a stab, to simply cite the mast
...more
Samson LeFerg
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Barthelme, satire, or "postmodernism"
What's that, Barthelme was a miniaturist? Best at the short stuff, where his goofball pomo antics and non-sequitur-laden dialog could make its quick and wily impact on the reader before zipping out the door? Sure, that's probably true, but this novel (really a novella I guess) is very good. I give it 5 stars because I am grading it on my own personal bias-scale where a 4 star Barthelme book is better than a 5 star book by most others.

My favorite parts of this book: the Q and A sections, a Barth
...more
wally
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: barthelme
"...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
John
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kevin
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A huge fan of Barthelme's short stories and Snow White, I was excited to pick up this one, also a little worried about the premise dragging it into blatant objectification of women. The novel does objectify women, though the objectification feels more a reflection of society than the characters involved. The writing has Barthelme's signature flare for the compelling and obscure, and also many moments of wit, but the novel ultimately failed to deliver. It's told in collage form, alternating betwe ...more
Danielle
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Ed
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have meant to read Barthelme for a long time. I happened on this at the library and chose it as my introduction to his work. This book was written in 1986 (Barthelme died in 1989) and is, I believe, his 13th book. Barthelme cites Samuel Beckett as a major influence, but this book reminds me rather of Harold Pinter: what seem to be overheard scenes or vignettes spur the reader to create an entire narrative.
Recommended, although it may seem stylistically dated.

Kevin Hinman
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sean Pagaduan
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Dan
Mar 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
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.
Christa
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 50-book-08
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
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Wesley
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Barthelme's more approachable works, almost a better fit in brother Frederick's body of work, Paradise is a vastly entertaining exploration of American befuddlement. Middle-aged Simon's quiet exasperation is the perfect foil for his younger, ludicrous pre-millenial, pre-Dunham roommates.
Jacob
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A middle-aged man finds himself living in a beer commercial.
Moss
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting enough to keep reading. Sort of an existential wandering through four lives....some interesting ideas but nothing amazing.
Jason ("jcreed")
A bit of an indulgent exercise in stereotypical male fantasy, but well-written.
Jason
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In its way, this book is perfect. Funny and enjoyable.
Darby Larson
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fun with barthelme, quick read
Geoffrey
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly conventional narrative, by Barthelmanian standards, but still pretty marvelous.
Werebot
Dec 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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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“He's indifferent.'
'I don't think he's indifferent. He fucks well enough. Not the best I've ever seen.'
'He can't tell us apart.'
'Oh I don't think that's true. He asked me when my birthday was.'
'What'd you tell him?'
'I told him. July third.'
'Well what does that prove?'
'He's thoughtful. He can tell one from another. He's interested in us as individuals.'
'Maybe it's just a façade. Maybe he just knows what to do to make us think he cares about us as individuals and is doing it.'
'Why would he do that? If he cares about us as individuals?'
'Because he likes us to have the feeling that he cares about us as individuals? Because it makes things more warm?'
'Well if he wants to make things more warm I'd say that was something in his favor.'
'Yes but you have to make a distinction between making things seem a certain way and having them really be a certain way.'
'Well even if he's only interested in making things seem a certain way that means he's not indifferent. To the degree that he makes the effort.”
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