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A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  179 ratings  ·  24 reviews
This is Barry Yourgrau's debut book, the one that put him on the literary map, where he remains a landmark of imaginative prowess.

In A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane, the author focuses his wide-awake subconscious mind on thematic standards--father, mother, lover, sex, the imagination itself--and recasts them into madcap parable, surrealistic fables, and grotesque fantasies.
Paperback, 126 pages
Published May 12th 1999 by Arcade Publishing (first published November 30th 1983)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Glenn Russell
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Barry Yourgrau, born in South Africa in 1949 and living in New York City for many, many years

A book of dozens and dozens of one and two page micro-fictions where you will encounter bizarre happenings of all varieties, casts, shapes and sizes: a man climbs inside a cow, gentlemen in tuxedos perch in a tree, a couple of girls are locked up in an aquarium, a man comes home to find his wife in bed with a squirrel, there’s a bathtub filled with rutabagas, it snowing in a living room, a man rents two
Aravindakshan Narasimhan
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it

Barry Yourgrau is a unique voice in literary world. Whose world observes the fantastic in the mundane with heightened vividness and also observes the natural world with its peculiar absurdity. You get a dichotomy. One may take sometime to get used to this world, but once you are taken into it and respond to its rhythms, you will crave for more. Though I write under "A man jumps out of an airplane", I am also thinking about "Wearing dad's head" while I write this. Perhaps the duality of his writi
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such an interesting approach to flash. It's not quite like anything else. So strange, fleeting and non-graspable. Sometimes I wish it could be grasped a little more, but there we are. It wouldn't be what it is if it was. ...more
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: fiction
Barry Yourgrau writes down those dreams you forget when the alarm goes off. I love the
spareness of his style--most of these stories are a page to a page-and-a-half long--
and the weirdness of content. After reading a few, you easily slip into a slightly surreal dimension and its logic soon feels quite comfortable. It's the refreshing sorbet between
courses of standard fiction.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Short story surreal fantasy fiction fans
This is truly a fun/carnivallike collection of short surreal stories -- between 500 and about 1000 words each. Anyone looking for an escape from reality or a tool to guide your own daydreams will really enjoy this compilation. I kept thinking of these stories as a swim inside a Dali painting, interwoven with Phish soundscapes, Sesame Street ish characters who have Playboy tendencies.

There's some really interesting scenarios; a man goes inside of a cow on a bet -- a guy with a last cigarette on e
May 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Surreal short stories. And I mean short. Each one is anywhere from 1-4 pages long. But they go much deeper in their metaphors. A sampling of opening lines from the stories: "A man climbs into a cow on a bet." "It's snowing in the living room." "A man comes home and finds his wife in bed with a squirrel." "On the bus, I meet a guy who says his hobby is jails."

It's poetry and prose, fiction but more than fiction. It's a short, quick, trippy read. Though there's too many stories about naked girls t
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2008
I think these short short stories would make good songs. The Beatles could have used them for lyrics. Not sure they work so well as short short stories.

I did love "The Joke:" A mother and son both decide to wear disguises when they meet. And neither can understand why the other is looking so weird. It haunts their relationship forever.

Otherwise, I'd rather read something by Yourgrau that lasts a bit longer & develops into something substantial. This book wreaks of flippancy. Or maybe I'm just j
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: booze-n-bookclub
An unusual collection of short stories. I like stories that have a definite beginning, middle and end. Some of these stories met that criteria, others didn't but seemed like they could be the start of a longer story. Some of the more interesting ones were "Milk," "Domestic Farce," "On the Lake," and the very surreal story where the books title comes from "Soup Bone." ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A true masterpiece, this collection of flash fiction is like a smorgasbord of rich and exotic desserts, each sweeter and more colorful than the previous.

While absolutely absurdist in content, Mr. Yourgrau gives us a lot to ponder and analyze in this series of dream-like episodes. A true treasure that should be shared and savored.
Stewart Mitchell
I read this one in between others on my breaks at work and I enjoyed most of it. Flash fiction probably just isn't my thing, but Yourgrau's got a great voice, and if you can stop trying to excavate meaning from everything (i.e. if you can stop being me), it's easy to get swept up in his dreamlike imagination. My favorite thing about this book (which I really should be rating 4 stars, I think) is just how much it reminds me of Barthelme's Sixty Stories, and how that collection drew me into worlds ...more
S. Wilson
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
While Yourgrau's one and two page short stories - or flash fiction - are concise, poetic, and imaginative, they really didn't leave much an impression on me. Much like Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine by Diane Williams, this feels more like a collection of revised notebook (or dream journal) entries than it does deliberate prose, and never manages to cross the line into successful experimental fiction. A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane doesn't necessarily fail, but it doesn't quite succeed, either. ...more
Geoff Young
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every bit as surreal and curiously satisfying as I'd remembered. The lesser stories elicit a chuckle or at least a smile, while the greater ones are profiundly disorienting. A pleasure to read. ...more
Pat Pujolas
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't care for flash fiction, but I do enjoy insanity, surrealism and originality. You'll find those all here in Barry Yourgrau's debut collection. Have fun! ...more
Apr 04, 2010 rated it liked it
While these are all great stories, I think they would have appreciated more if I'd read them in college. Might have also stopped me from writing about 75% of what I wrote. I prefer his collection, The Sadness of Sex. ...more
Dec 21, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like weird things
OMG, SO weird. It's like every weird dream you've ever had written down in detail. People made of snowballs, frogs getting back at you. A fun, light read -- moderately creepy. :) ...more
Keith Davis
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yourgrau's minimalist stories read like transcribed dreams; like dreams they have their own internal logic while being completely surreal. ...more
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
When he's good he's very very good. ...more
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories remind me of snapshots that might be shared by Bukowski, if Bukowski was still twisted, but less of an asshole.
Emily Detrick
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Yourgrau stories are like Jack Handy - only read one or two at a time or they lose their magic.
Kathryn Born
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The greatest book of short stories I ever read. I used to study this book, reading it over and over, trying to figure out how to write like that.

Jul 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good second book from Yourgrau, like candy.
Sep 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
. hate to trash talk but this is a very lazy book.
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Writer-performer Barry Yourgrau is author of "A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane: Stories" (new edition, May '17). His other books of surreal brief tales include "Wearing Dad's Head," "Haunted Traveller," and "The Sadness of Sex," in whose movie version he starred.

Audio of story, "Honky-Tonk,"" from "A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane" is on youtube:

Barry is also

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