That headline could equally well describe many of these abbreviated critical pieces and not wholly forthcoming interviews. Barthelme's many other pieces for the magazine waver lamely between its characteristic wryness and his own fabulist flair, though there is one happy, humorous piece that purports to answer a Writer's Digest questionnaire about his drinking habits. Barthelme also tried his hand at film criticism for the New Yorker in , but his reviews of Truffaut, Herzog, and Bertolucci are surprisingly heavy going, as are his writings on abstract expressionists and contemporary architecture. The longest interview, a radio serial chat from , seems dated and pretentious e. This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Not-Knowing by Donald Barthelme. Kim Herzinger Editor. John Barth Introduction. When Donald Barthelme died at the age of 58, he was perhaps the most imitated if not emulated practitioner of American literature. Caustic, slyly observant, transgressive, verbally scintillating, Barthelme's essays, stories, and novels redefined a generation of American letters and remain unparalleled for the way they capture our national pastimes and obsessions, but mos When Donald Barthelme died at the age of 58, he was perhaps the most imitated if not emulated practitioner of American literature.
Caustic, slyly observant, transgressive, verbally scintillating, Barthelme's essays, stories, and novels redefined a generation of American letters and remain unparalleled for the way they capture our national pastimes and obsessions, but most of all for the way they caputure the strangeness of life. Not-Knowing amounts to the posthumous manifesto of one of our premier literary modernists. Here are Barthelme's thoughts on writing his own and others ; his observations on art, architecture, film, and city life; interviews, including two never previously published; and meditations on everything from Superman III to the art of rendering "Melancholy Baby" on jazz banjolele.
This is a rich and eclectic selection of work by the man Robert Coover has called "one of the great citizens of contemporary world letters. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 26th by Vintage first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Not-Knowing , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Shelves: own. It didn't help that they all wrote for the New Yorker , which also has about five hundred writers named Ian writing for them none of them any relation to Donald, Frederick, or Donald, that I know of. So when I picked up this book of nonfiction work, I had no idea whether I had read any of Donald's fiction no.
Regardless, it's almost always irresistible when writers discuss the nuts a I always got Donald Barthelme confused with his brother, Frederick Barthelme, and Donald Antrim no relation. Regardless, it's almost always irresistible when writers discuss the nuts and bolts of writing. For example, "Rhythm is important, and it's one of the things you notice about student work.
Very often students don't, in the beginning, understand that their sentences are supposed to have certain rhythms and that the rhythms are part of the texture of the story.
It's hard to teach, something that's more a knack than directly teachable. But it's central, it's a factor in every sentence, and you have to insist on it, remember to insist on it.
Roe: Is the new generation of writers more concerned than their predecessors with politics, economics, and social class? My generation, perhaps foolishly, expected, even demanded, that life be wonderful and magical and then tried to make it so by writing in a rather complex way.
It seems now quite an eccentric demand. There are also many short pieces from the New Yorker and a few other publications: book reviews, film reviews, thoughts. In spite of directing the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston for two years, Barthelme's art criticism isn't all that interesting or insightful.
I found this to be the case with Susan Sontag's writing about painting, too. I liked his film criticism he filled in at the New Yorker for six weeks for a portion of Pauline Kael's sabbatical and his book reviews. There's a witty takedown of a John Kenneth Galbraith novel. His summary of Love and Bullets sent me rushing to the Youtube, where I was not disappointed in this Charles Bronson, Rod Steiger, and Jill Ireland thriller, though Ireland's series of platinum wigs, and then her real hair, if that's what it was, affronted.
The two-essay opening salvo alone is worth the price of admission, a kind of career-bookending manifesto that encapsulates as much of the Barthelme aesthetic -- if there was such a thing -- in its gentle shifts and contradictions as it does in its consistencies.
But something tells me the interviews'll be what I go back to again and again. The loosely chronological sequencing provides a type of time-capsule evidence that above all else Barthelme was an enthusiast: his zest for art, philosophy, li The two-essay opening salvo alone is worth the price of admission, a kind of career-bookending manifesto that encapsulates as much of the Barthelme aesthetic -- if there was such a thing -- in its gentle shifts and contradictions as it does in its consistencies.
The loosely chronological sequencing provides a type of time-capsule evidence that above all else Barthelme was an enthusiast: his zest for art, philosophy, literature, life seems only to grow as the decades pass.
His interviews - amazing; After Joyce and Not-Knowing - great; Here in the Village - funny; Reviews, comments, and observations - dreck; On art - same dreck but shorter :. Jul 02, Tom rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction. Not the most amazing book of essays and interviews or anything, but it gets four stars from me on the strength of the titular essay alone. Something that continually gets me charged up about the seemingly ossified possibilities of fiction every time I read it.
Jul 01, Jake Regan rated it it was amazing. Gass, Grace Paley, and Walker Percy. Apr 19, Chris Farmer rated it really liked it. He is much better with fiction David Lynch, my favorite film director, has this irritating to me habit--especially these days--of refusing to discuss his creative process. As a man whose films have crept farther and farther into the left field of cinema, it's certainly not necessary, but would certainly be appreciated again, by me , if Lynch would be more forthcoming about what it means to him to make a movie.
I'm not saying I want him to tell us what his films "mean," and I agree with his reluctance to ascribe meaning of David Lynch, my favorite film director, has this irritating to me habit--especially these days--of refusing to discuss his creative process. I'm not saying I want him to tell us what his films "mean," and I agree with his reluctance to ascribe meaning of any sort to even one scene in, say, Inland Empire , because to do so could easily damage the fragile, magical atmosphere in which his films exist.
But an earnest discussion of the filmmaking process itself would not be unappreciated, dammit. Which brings me to Donald Barthelme and, more specifically, this book.
Barthelme's fiction is among the strangest I've read, and although I wouldn't necessarily put his work in the same storytelling category as Lynch's, there are similarities the apparent non sequitur, the incident that could be interpreted as either funny or horrifying [or both], the wicked satire of "normal" American life, the startlingly original use of language, the influence of jazz, etc.
Yet, unlike Lynch, Barthelme was entirely willing to discuss his work, often in detail. No doubt this willingness is linked to Barthelme's work as a professor of creative writing. The process of creation interested him, and his serious engagement with the work of his students provided him with a rich vocabulary for discussing the nuts and bolts of storytelling. The two most important pieces in this collection are "After Joyce" , written near the beginning of Barthelme's writing career, and "Not-Knowing" , written five years before he died.
Together they frame Barthelme's aesthetic approach to fiction. And the interviews, which take up the last third of the book, provide fascinating insights into Barthelme's process of writing as well as his literary intentions.
They also present a man deeply informed in literature, politics, and culture to an almost intimidating degree. He was not unlike Nabokov in this way whose own interviews were often as much informal discourses on a wide range of subjects as they were a discussion of his work. The reason I give this book three stars, however, is for the other two-thirds of the book, which contains many of Barthelme's "Notes and Comment" articles for the New Yorker , a few of his movie reviews, his essays on art, and other miscellaneous nonfiction pieces.
None of them are bad, of course this is Barthelme, after all , but few of them really grabbed me. Perhaps some of this has to do with the venue, and with timing.
Had I encountered them in their original form in magazines, at the time in which they were published, I am certain I would have considered them to be the best things I read in those magazines. Now, however, they are chiefly interesting as archival pieces. Feb 02, Kevin rated it really liked it Shelves: essays.
The essays "After Joyce" and "Not-Knowing" that kick-off this collection are a delight. Also delightful are the collection of Barthelme New Yorker excerpts from what I assume was the era's equivalent of the "Shouts and Murmurs" section. I particularly enjoyed the interviews at the end, some of which were a bit inartfully conducted, but most provided great insight into Barthelme's conversational style and thoughts on writing and his own work.
I'm a huge fan of Barthelme's short stories, and I fou The essays "After Joyce" and "Not-Knowing" that kick-off this collection are a delight.
I'm a huge fan of Barthelme's short stories, and I found him pretty charming and brilliant. Most of the reviews in this collection were not of interest--I did not know their source material. It's odd to read reviews from a man who's been dead for most of life, who I sometimes think about as having died in the 60s or 70s instead of , talking about young actors who are still working today a fault of the reader, to be sure. There is one unfortunate incidence of jive-talk in a New Yorker piece, but otherwise I didn't find anything repellent.
The essays and interviews really are precious for any fan and anyone who thinks about the world of literature. Barthelme laments the trend in publishing houses more alive today than it was then of trying to make bank rather than art. He also celebrates throughout the notion of human artistic achievement, claiming that if a computer were to ever crack the code and create art palatable to humans, humans would move the goalposts and make art more challenging or inaccessible.
One of Barthelme's central arguments is that there's great pleasure to be had in not knowing, and there's a precision in art's ability to evade being known and yet still be compelling.
This study will be the first critical treatment of Barthelme that positions his work from beginning to end in terms of the dimensions of not-knowing that came out of his own reading in psychology, art theory, philosophy, religion, and education, offering coherent readings of co Queue ["Typeset",MathJax. The file s for this record are currently under an embargo. If you complete the attached form, we can attempt to contact the author and ask if they are willing to let us send you a copy for your personal research use only. We will then pass this form and your request on to the author and let you know their response.
Postmodernist icon Donald Barthelme April 7, —July 23, was not only one of the most innovative and memorable voices in twentieth-century fiction, known for his seemingly plotless verbal-collage narratives, but also a writer with a special sensitivity to language and an exceptional ability to articulate its magic. Writing is a process of dealing with not-knowing, a forcing of what and how. The anxiety attached to this situation is not inconsiderable. The more serious the artist, the more problems he takes into account and the more considerations limit his possible initiatives…. Problems are a comfort. Let me cite three such difficulties that I take to be important, all having to do with language.
It speaks of a fundamental placement in relation to the work, that of a voyager in the world coming upon a strange object. The reader reconstitutes the work by his active participation, by approaching the object, tapping it, shaking it, holding it to his ear to hear the roaring within. Joyce enforces the way in which Finnegans Wake is to be read. The book remains problematic, unexhausted. Ezra Pound announced early on that in those portions of it that he had read, the rewards were not worth the decipherment.
Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme