Jesse's Reviews > Lost in the Funhouse

Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth
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's review
Jul 06, 2008

really liked it

I picked up this collection of short stories, because it was referenced in a David Foster Wallace novella (Westward the Course of Empire Takes it's Way) that I massively enjoyed. The influence of Barth on DFW is readily apparent and "Lost in the Funhouse" is a carnival ride of a book. Full of self-reflexion, mobius strips, and retold Greek myths. The stories are fairly readable if you're not concerned with things like plot and/or plot resolution (a trick DFW handily usurped). But the ideas behind the stories are powerful and force you to approach ficton in a new way. For all the evils of postmodernism there is a vibrant allure about some of the earlier works, a sense of wonder, and limitless imagination - stories with no rules. Of course this can be taken too far and that's when you get silly things like having one word per page, or thirty blank pages (is an artistic statement really worth all that paper? are you the writer really that good?). But with this book of stories the inventiveness is balanced out by a purpose. At times the balance can veer toward complete colapse, but then some human touch will bring it back into equilibrium.
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