The Dead Father
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You are killing me. We? Not we. Not in any sense, we. Processes are killing you, not we. Inexorable processes.
Even if some dogmas and tenets are discarded in the process of the constant progress they don't let us go and we keep carrying this burden of the past on our backs.
Having just finished the memoir Double Down written by Don Barthelme's younger brothers, I was able to clearly divine the influence of the troubled relationship Don had with his father in this work. The Dead Father is a monstrous hilarious ribald construct of a thing, and the charac ...more
This book could be the novel such an alien could have written.
I have never read anything like it before.
It t ...more
Most of the book, I thought was a 3-star deal, mainly because I found some of the sections (particularly the long moments when Emma and Julie talked to each other) to be borderline incomprehensible, and while I'm sure Barthelme knew exactly what he was doing, it was one of those situations where I was holding a book in my hands and processing words and then feeling stupid. And maybe I was too dense to understand what was going on, but regar ...more
My, Barthelme is funny.
Sometimes he's also obnoxious.
His bag of tricks is clever and sophisticated.
If I'm being honest, though, I like a novel better than I like a bag of tricks.
I'm probably not very sophisticated.
Was there a male writer from the 2nd half of the 20th Century whose writing about sex wasn't a total embarrassment? It's like they all went to the same school of sex for schoolboys.
This Dead Father ...more
This is the story of a son & his love ...more
The Dead Father is the story of your everyday, average funeral procession for a 200 foot tall father figure who's bloodlust and libido have not been quelled by death. Barthelme comically relates the influence that Greco-Roman and Judao-Christian traditions have had on literature and life in the occidental world.. The more the narrative tries to free itself of these cosmologies the harder they pull them back into the fold.
The protagonists and their entourage painstakingly drag the "dead" father t...more
Then, why was The Dead Father ...more
Barthelme successfully weaves up a style redolent of the best moments in Beckett, Joyce and even Borges (with many many lists). He even wrote one chapter in a spin-off style of Finnegans Wake. Very cool. One of the hippest writers who ever lived. Check dis out.
In one case, to enter a land that does not allow "fathers," dead or alive, they allow the Dead Father's leg to be cut off and barbecued. Hey it's either kill the Dead Father or barbecue his l ...more
to direct...our first hatred and our first murderous
wish against our father.
I sat and read The Dead Father, a formative work of postmodernist fiction, in three bursts: afternoon, evening, then morning. Finishing the novel left me with cerebral indigestion: I am still deciphering the points of the story (despite knowing it’s meant to be essentially and playfully absurd and ironic—to quote, “To find a lost father: the first problem in finding a ...more
This book rants on and on. There are full chapters of rambling dialogue that are incredibly hard or impossible to follow. There are no quotation marks in the book so it makes it even harder to tell what is dialogue and what is description. The best part (which isn't saying very much) is the section titled "A Manual for Sons," and even that is convoluted. I won't spoil it, but the reveal of ...more
To be clear, there were moments in this book where the narration kind of entered my eyes, passed through the more mundane, yet cavernous, pathways in my brain, and left right out my ears or some other orifice. But then there were the moments that created neuronal connections that didn't even exist before, and that's what makes this piece of post-modern whackiness so special. I have come out the end of these one hundred seventy-seven pages with a slightly different mind, ...more
A lively work of postmodernism.
Postmodern literature is always difficult to review as it is often the author’s purpose to stray from conventional methods of writing. The Dead Father was not my first experience with Postmodernism. I have read a few other works within the hard-to-define genre, including works by the author that comes up in many searches on the topic: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I will say that in my small, yet expanding ...more
Mid-70s Barthelme had just the right contemporary counterculture approach to faintly Dada-ist allegory to impress my teenage self mightily. On a subsequent reading in adulthood, it seemed a bit facile, but on what I expect to be the final go-round (ars longa, vita brevis and all that), it returns to 80% satisfactory.
The Father in question is mainly He of the Judeo-Christian tradition but wit ...more
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...the embarrassment of sending away those I didn't want, the pain of sending away those I did want, out into the lifestream ...more
I always appreciate an extended meditation on patricide of the internal papa-super-ego, but by the end I was Barthelmed out. I mean really, how long can a person read non-sequitur dialogue? The most spectacular bit is the Manual for Sons (which is also in his compilation Sixty-six Stories), which includes advice like this:
You must become your fat...more
Barthelme hits every note just so, commenting in perfect pitch o ...more
I suppose it's blatantly "postmodern" -- by golly, what better time to write a postmodern work than the 1970s? Of course, if you're not a fan of consciously postmodern writing, you might not enjoy the work. It's not going to honor the dead, that's for certain - Barthelme is excellent at vilifying most paradigms, so he's liable to upset certain folks. Take this on if ...more
There's also a smaller book on fathers, have to admit that it was fun but a head scratcher too.
" -We? Not we. Not in any sense, we. Processes are killing you, not we. Inexorable processes.”