Sixty Stories

Barthelme, Donald. Sixty Stories. New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons, 1981.

Reason read: Barthelme died July 23, 1989 of throat cancer. This is read in his honor.

I wanted to review this book by writing one sentence about each short story (60 sentences in all), but I have to confess this: I wasn’t sure what some of the stories were even about. I am glad I found other “I’m so confused” reviews. It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one lost from time to time. I’m like the sober party-goer who doesn’t get the drunk joke that everyone else is cracking up about. Even the writing structure was strange. Sometimes a story wouldn’t have paragraphs. Other times the story was without punctuation. Or. Or! Or, something like this – the word butter written 97 times. Most of the time it was people acting oddly like writing letters to their lover’s therapist or living in the church of their denomination or killing 6,000 dogs after buying Galveston, Texas. Some stories were profound especially when they centered on the human condition. Others were just plain strange and I couldn’t wrap my brain around his motive or meaning.

Lines I liked but didn’t understand, “But stealing books is metaphysically different from stealing like money” (p 13), “Strangling the moon is wrong” (p 99), and “The bad zombies banged the Bishop’s car with a dead cow, at night” (p 351).

Book trivia: Sixty Stories even has illustrations. That’s how chock full of weirdness it is.

Author fact: Barthelme wrote novels and books for children in addition to short stories.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “All in the Family” (p). Brothers Donald and Frederick were both writers.



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