Donald Barthelme 1931-1989
(Also wrote under the pseudonym of Lily McNeil) American short story writer, novelist, essayist, and children's author.
The following entry provides an overview of Barthelme's short fiction works. For additional information on his short fiction career, see SSC, Volume 2.
A preeminent writer of experimental fiction, Barthelme created stories that are both humorous and unsettling by juxtaposing incongruous elements of contemporary language and culture. He typically structured a piece of short fiction in the form of a verbal collage by assembling disparate fragments of information, conversation, narrative, and wordplay and by detailing contemporary settings in which objects and abstract ideas proliferate and threaten to overwhelm his characters. Barthelme's writing is characterized by the absence of plot and character development, disjointed syntax and dialogue, parodies of technical, mass media, and intellectual jargon and clichés. His work contains allusions to philosophy, psychology, and various forms of art and popular culture. Barthelme entertained such themes as the ability of language to accurately convey thought and emotion, the function of art and the role of the artist in society, the complications of sexuality, the frailty and transience of human relationships, and the fragmentary nature of reality.
Barthelme was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Houston, Texas, where his father became established as an innovative architect. While sharing his father's respect for visual art and architecture, Barthelme developed a strong interest in literature. After serving as editor for a literary journal published by the University of Texas and as a journalist and a museum director, Barthelme traveled to New York City in the early 1960s and edited Locations, a short-lived arts and literary journal. His first stories were published in literary periodicals during the early 1960s. A prolific writer, several of his stories appeared in the New Yorker. In his later years, he divided his time between New York City and a teaching position in the creative writing program at the University of Houston. He died of cancer in 1989.
Major Works of Short Fiction
Believing that traditional forms and structures of art and literature are inadequate for addressing the peculiar needs and concerns of the modern world, Barthelme endeavored to promote new and inventive approaches. Rather than creating traditional, linear fictional forms that provide commentary on life by conveying meaning and values that readers expect and are prepared to find, Barthelme viewed each of his stories as an individual object. In his early stories, many of which originally appeared in the New Yorker and were subsequently collected in the books Come Back, Dr. Caligari (1964) and Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts (1968), Barthelme blended parodies of such media as advertising, comic books, and television shows with puns, non sequiturs, and disjointed dialogue and narrative. The publication of City Life (1970) solidified Barthelme's reputation as a major figure in contemporary literature. The stories in this collection exhibit such characteristic Barthelme devices as black humor, deadpan narrative tones, and experiments with syntax, punctuation, illustrations, and typography. In several stories Barthelme explored themes relating to art, including the positive and negative effects of irony, anxieties faced by artists who find traditional artistic approaches to life to be outmoded, and individuals whose search for meaning is complicated by a superabundance of objects, ideas, and random and incomprehensible events. Irony, anxiety, and sorrow are important motifs in the stories collected in Sadness (1972). The stories collected in Great Days (1979) and Overnight to Many Distant Cities (1983) feature several new elements along with Barthelme's various characteristic techniques and concerns. For instance, Overnight to Many Distant Cities is composed of stories juxtaposed with brief, dreamlike monologues. While some critics have faulted this collection for Barthelme's idiosyncratic use of literary devices, others note the presence of hope in many of the pieces as well as an uncharacteristic willingness by Barthelme to confront and reflect emotions. Sixty Stories (1981) and Forty Stories (1987) collect pieces from all phases of Barthelme's career.
The unconventional nature of Barthelme's work has provoked extensive critical debate. His detractors perceive in his work a destructive impulse to subvert language and culture and an emphasis on despair and irrationalism. These critics claim that he offers no remedies for the ills of contemporary life that he documents and that he refuses to convey order, firm values, and meaning. On the other hand, Barthelme enjoys widespread critical acclaim and is particularly praised as a stylist who offers vital and regenerative qualities to literature. There have been several commentators who have noted parallels between Barthelme's stories and those of Franz Kafka and Jorge Luis Borges. They assert that like Kafka, Barthelme presents a surreal, irrational world in which the anxieties of his characters are amplified, and that he experiments with form like Borges to create fantastic and ironic scenarios that blur distinctions between the real and the imaginary. Some critics regard Barthelme as an insightful satirist who exposes pretentious ideas that purport to answer life's mysteries.
Come Back, Dr. Caligari 1964
Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts 1968
City Life 1970
Great Days 1979
Sixty Stories 1981
Overnight to Many Distant Cities 1983
Forty Stories 1987
The Teachings of Don B.: The Satires, Parodies, Fables, Illustrated Stories, and Plays of Donald Barthelme 1992
Snow White (novel) 1967
The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine; or, The Hithering, Thithering Djinn (children's book) 1971
Guilty Pleasures (satirical essays) 1974
The Dead Father (novel) 1975
Paradise (novel) 1986
Sam's Bar (novel) 1987
The King (novel) 1990
Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme (essays) 1997
(The entire section is 79 words.)
SOURCE: Dickstein, Morris. “Fiction at the Crossroads.” In Critical Essays on Donald Barthelme, edited by Richard F. Patteson, pp. 59-69. New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1992.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1977, Dickstein regards Barthelme's City Life as the apotheosis of fictional experimentation and ingenuity and compares it to other innovative fictional works of the late 1960s.]
When two publishers in 1962 brought out overlapping collections of the work of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges it was an important event for American readers, but few could have anticipated the impact it would have on our fiction. His work hardly fit into any traditional niche. The short story, even in the hands of Chekhov and Joyce, had always been the most conservative of all literary genres, the most tied to nineteenth-century conventions of incident and character, the least given to formal or technical innovation. Borges' stories hardly seemed to be stories at all; some of the best masqueraded as essays, laborious researches about nonexistent countries, ingenious commentaries on nonexistent books, mingled fantastically with the most out-of-the-way knowledge of real countries and real books. Where the traditional story took for granted the difference between the solid world out there and the imaginary world that tried to imitate it, Borges willfully confounded them. His stories were...
(The entire section is 5169 words.)
SOURCE: Bruss, Paul. “Barthelme's Short Stories: Ironic Suspensions of Text.” In Victims: Textual Strategies in Recent American Fiction, pp. 113-29. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1981.
[In the following essay, Bruss explores the suspension of self and the roles of narrative style and irony in Barthelme's short fiction.]
One of Barthelme's early short stories contains this quotation, which is Robert Kennedy's comment on Poulet's analysis of Marivaux:
The Marivaudian being is, according to Poulet, a pastless futureless man, born anew at every instant. The instants are points which organize themselves into a line, but what is important is the instant, not the line. The Marivaudian being has in a sense no history. Nothing follows from what has gone before. He is constantly surprised. He cannot predict his own reaction to events. He is constantly being overtaken by events. A condition of breathlessness and dazzlement surrounds him. In consequence he exists in a certain freshness which seems … very desirable.
This passage serves nicely as a touchstone for an introduction to Barthelme's short fiction because it addresses, with remarkable fullness, the matter of the timeless present that generally serves as the fundamental boundary for all human activity. It is true that Barthelme's...
(The entire section is 8428 words.)
SOURCE: Gordon, Lois. “Come Back, Dr. Caligari.” In Donald Barthelme, pp. 35-61. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981.
[In the following essay, Gordon surveys the dominant thematic concerns of Barthelme's first short story collection, Come Back, Dr. Caligari.]
The first collection introduces many of Barthelme's themes and landscapes, most prominently the spiritually weary, contemporary world, brainwashed by popular culture and the media (“Viennese Opera Ball”), a society of people looking for “the right words” (“Florence Green”) and specific scripts with which to duplicate an identity (“For I'm the Boy,” “Big Broadcast,” “Hiding Man,” “Margins”). The theme of failed marriage recurs (“To London and Rome,” “Broadcast,” “For I'm the Boy,” “Will You Tell Me?” “Piano Player”). Another subject, which Barthelme will pursue, is the problem of using words, because “signs” sometimes “lie” (the remarkable “Me and Miss Mandible”). The artist as subject, in his personal and professional life, is the focus of “Shower of Gold” and “Marie,” two of the volume's best stories which treat, in a consummately humane and wildly parodic fashion, the contradiction of “the absurd” in theory and reality.
I “FLORENCE GREEN IS 81”
“The aim of literature is the creation of a strange object covered...
(The entire section is 9865 words.)
SOURCE: Brown, Frank Burch. Review of Sixty Stories, by Donald Barthelme. Christian Century (31 March 1982): 385-86.
[In the following review, Brown views Sixty Stories as a welcome overview of Barthelme's work and “gives ample evidence that contemporary writing and stories of this kind defy capsule description.”]
At 50 Donald Barthelme has established himself as a remarkable—and remarkably influential—writer with a seemingly boundless capacity for invention. This representative collection of 60 stories [Sixty Stories] provides a welcome overview of his work to date, including an excerpt from the novel The Dead Father and five stories not previously available in book form. It also gives ample evidence that contemporary writing and art can be most frustrating at the very points at which they succeed most brilliantly.
More than one critic has called Barthelme's stories “parables”—presumably because the works are short, perplexing and suggestive, verging (one might suppose) on some larger realm of significance. But, as one soon realizes, these opaque little fictions are markedly different from the parables of Jesus or even Kafka. One feels, in fact, that they are the sort of thing a poststructuralist like Derrida would produce if he set out to write parables.
Ever ironic, sophisticated, perverse, fantastic and often...
(The entire section is 673 words.)
SOURCE: Couturier, Maurice and Durand, Regis. “Barthelme's Code of Transaction.” In Donald Barthelme, pp. 42-50. London: Methuen, 1982.
[In the following essay, Couturier and Durand analyze the different forms of transaction and discourse in Barthelme's short fiction.]
Barthelme's fiction—rather like Beckett's—does point in the direction of a theoretical reconstruction of the self; this is a comic enterprise, however, and is undercut by one of Barthelme's favourite strategies of displacement and defence, his constant irony. His irony is, as we have seen, a generator of fiction, but when applied to the psychological and historical world it becomes part of the complicated game of the troubled subject. A good example of this is his story ‘The Sandman’, in Sadness, which consists of a letter written by a girl's boyfriend to her analyst. It is a funny letter, which displays Barthelme's thorough knowledge of psychoanalysis but also his ambivalent position towards it.
In ‘The Sandman’, the author of the letter writes to explain why he supports his friend's wish to terminate the analysis and buy a piano instead; he proceeds to expose the power game that underlies the process of psychoanalysis. He calls the analyst ‘the Sandman’ in reference, he says, to the old rhyme (‘Sea-sand does the Sandman bring / Sleep to the end of Day / He dusts the children's eyes with sand...
(The entire section is 2975 words.)
SOURCE: McCaffery, Larry. “Donald Barthelme: The Aesthetics of Trash.” In The Metafictional Muse: The Worlds of Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, and William H. Gass, pp. 99-149. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982.
[In the following excerpt, McCaffery focuses on the “metafictional interests” of Barthelme's short fiction.]
The final possibility is to turn ultimacy, exhaustion, paralyzing self-consciousness and the adjective weight of accumulating history … to make something new and valid, the essence whereof would be the impossibility of making something new.
—John Barth, “Title”
After a life rich in emotional defeats, I have looked around for other modes of misery, other roads to destruction. Now I limit myself to listening to what people say, and thinking what pamby it is, what they say. My nourishment is refined from the ongoing circus of the mind in motion. Give me the odd linguistic trip, stutter and fall, and I will be content.
—Donald Barthelme, Snow White
On August 31, 1963 the New Yorker carried a story entitled “Player Piano,” which was written by an almost totally unknown thirty-year-old writer named Donald Barthelme. Although few readers or critics could have anticipated it at the time, the appearance...
(The entire section is 8994 words.)
SOURCE: Molesworth, Charles. “The Short Story as the Form of Forms.” In Donald Barthelme's Fiction: The Ironist Saved from Drowning, pp. 10-42. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1982.
[In the following essay, Molesworth examines the defining characteristics of Barthelme's short stories.]
About fifty years ago, Elizabeth Bowen, in her introduction to the Faber Book of Modern Short Stories, compared the short story to the cinema, that other “accelerating” art form. She listed three affinities between the two:
neither is sponsored by a tradition; both are, accordingly, free; both, still, are self-conscious, show a self-imposed discipline and regard for form; both have, to work on, immense matter—the disoriented romanticism of the age.
Such affinities may not seem very illuminating at first glance and may strike some as the result of an intuition that barely rises above the journalistic. Still, the three points are worth considering, if only as a way to orient Barthelme's talent in terms of this protean genre. Take the last point first: the immensity of matter. This is perhaps the most obvious characteristic of Barthelme's work, its heterogeneous range of subjects, or at least its range of references. The stories in some sense reflect their place of publication, namely the modern magazine. Addressed to an audience...
(The entire section is 11669 words.)
SOURCE: Stengel, Wayne B. “The Art Stories.” In The Shape of Art in the Short Stories of Donald Barthelme, pp. 163-202. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.
[In the following essay, Stengel discusses Barthelme's twelve art stories, which evaluate the role of art and of the artist in contemporary life.]
[This essay] examines Barthelme stories that describe the place of art in contemporary life. All the stories interpreted here examine the role of the artist and the reaction of the audience when art becomes a massive object in the landscape, a museum piece, or an insurmountable obstacle. Though all twelve stories appear unconcerned about what their art works mean, some ask from what materials contemporary art can be formed; others question whether human beings are the proper subject matter for art, what should be the goals of art, or how the artist may create in a restless, exhausted world. The highly whimsical art objects created raise still other questions about the function and utility of art in a pragmatic world frequently indifferent or hostile to aesthetic considerations.
Art in these stories hardly constitutes mimesis. Rather, as long as an audience believes in their art, the artists represented here seem free to create people or human abstractions that could not in all likelihood exist. The stories imply that the effort to know another human being may well be...
(The entire section is 14477 words.)
SOURCE: Domini, John. “Donald Barthelme: The Modernist Uprising.” Southwest Review 75, no. 1 (winter 1990): 95-112.
[In the following essay, Domini explores Barthelme's modern consciousness through an examination of his short stories.]
“Barthelme has managed to place himself,” William Gass once declared, “in the center of modern consciousness.” Gass of course meant “modern” in the sense of “up to the minute”; he was praising Donald Barthelme for what always strikes one first about this author's highly imaginative and wickedly ironic fiction, namely, its free-wheeling use of contemporary culture in all its kitschy largesse. The majority of his closer critics—Tony Tanner, Wayne B. Stengel, and Larry McCaffery, to name three—have since seconded Gass's judgment, emphasizing what that early reviewer called the author's “need for the new.” In general the criticism has stressed how Barthelme revels in the dreck of contemporary culture—how he delights in our brokeback and hopelessly modish contemporary language—using the very elements of a civilization mad for superficial values in order to deride it. Robert A. Morace praises the author's “critique of the reductive linguistic democracy of the contemporary American mass culture,” (in Critique), and Larry McCaffery adds: “Barthelme's stories can thus be viewed as allegorical presentations of the writer attempting...
(The entire section is 6986 words.)
SOURCE: Baxter, Charles. “The Donald Barthelme Blues.” Gettysburg Review 3, no. 4 (autumn 1990): 713-23.
[In the following essay, Baxter traces Barthelme's literary development, focusing on his utilization of characters and language.]
The same day that a friend called with the news that Donald Barthelme had died, a freight train derailed outside Freeland, Michigan. Among the cars that went off the tracks were several chemical tankers, some of which spilled and caught fire. Dow Chemical was (and still is) reluctant to name these chemicals, but one of them was identified as chlorosilene. When chlorosilene catches fire, as it did in this case, it turns into hydrochloric acid. Upon being asked about the physical hazards to neighbors and on-lookers near the fire, a company representative, interviewed on Michigan Public Radio, said, “Well, there's been some physical reactions, yes, certainly. Especially in the area of nausea, vomiting-type thing.”
The area of nausea, vomiting-type thing: this area, familiar to us all, where bad taste, hilarity, fake authority, and cliché seem to collide, was Donald Barthelme's special kingdom. “I have a few new marvels here I'd like to discuss with you just briefly,” says the chief engineer in “Report.” “Consider for instance the area of realtime online computer-controlled wish evaporation.” Like his creation Hokie Mokie, the King of...
(The entire section is 5279 words.)
SOURCE: Campbell, Ewing. “Dark Matter: Barthelme's Fantastic, Freudian Subtext in ‘The Sandman’.” Studies in Short Fiction 27, no. 4 (fall 1990): 517-24.
[In the following essay, Campbell considers the connection between Barthelme's “The Sandman,” E. T. A. Hoffmann's tale “The Sandman,” and Sigmund Freud's essay “The ‘Uncanny.’”]
In its farewell to Donald Barthelme The New Yorker reminded readers that he had been variously defined “as an avant-gardist, a collagist, a minimalist, a Dadaist, an existentialist, and a postmodernist” (22). It is an extensive, but incomplete list, for Rosemary Jackson in her Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion places him among the literary fantasists (164). As the embodiment of a literary period—American postmodernism—he was all of the above and more. Responses to his work were intense and often at variance. It was daunting to some, nonsense to others, abstract, concrete, irreverent, wonderful, trivial, each qualifier depending on the humor and sensibilities of those making the judgment, but his fiction was always rich enough and elusive enough to bear the weight of serious inquiry. “The Sandman,” an epistolary fiction abounding in arcane references, is no exception. Although its surface text seems simple enough, appropriated and concealed subtexts complicate any detailed discussion to the point of confusion, creating a...
(The entire section is 3014 words.)
SOURCE: Trachtenberg, Stanley. “Barthelme the Scrivener.” In Understanding Donald Barthelme, pp. 102-64. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990.
[In the following essay, Trachtenberg provides a thematic overview of Barthelme's short fiction.]
Art, Barthelme insists, cannot not think of the world.1 Accordingly, in his fiction, the function of art and the situation of the artist provides an enabling metaphor by which it becomes possible to come to terms with a resistant and often opaque reality, whose disappointment and confusions are not so much dispelled by language as mediated, or, in the best case, perhaps even confronted by it in such a way as to change, if not the world, then at least the reader's awareness of its possibilities. The stories about art seldom interrogate either its meanings or its effect, other than on the artists themselves and the difficulties they experience in creating it. As an object in the fictive landscape, then, art as art, like the urban settings or the figures that inhabit them in much of Barthelme's fiction, emerges more in outline than in any realized depth.
Calling attention to the situation of Barthelme's artistic narrators, Wayne Stengel points to their insistence on a more meaningful reality than one provided by the art itself. At the same time, Stengel notes, they “regard art as a self-contained object without...
(The entire section is 15239 words.)
SOURCE: McHale, Brian, and Ron, Moshe. “On Not-Knowing How to Read Barthelme's ‘The Indian Uprising.’” Review of Contemporary Fiction 11, no. 2 (summer 1991): 50-68.
[In the following essay, McHale and Ron describe the difficulties of collaborating on a close reading of “The Indian Uprising.”]
The writer is a man who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do.
—Donald Barthelme, “Not-Knowing”
When, early in 1989, the two of us began to collaborate on a project involving Barthelme's story “The Indian Uprising,” we both knew and did not know what to do. We knew we wanted to undertake a close reading of “The Indian Uprising,” for reasons we could specify: because critics have tended to shy away from fine-grained, continuous analysis of postmodernist texts, with the implication—perhaps inadvertent but in any case, in our view, unjustified—that such texts could not sustain analysis of this kind; and because we aspired (no doubt hubristically) to produce model close readings in the postmodernist paradigm analogous to those produced by Brooks and Warren in the New Critical paradigm. We did not know what such a postmodernist close reading would look like; we only knew, negatively, that it could not take for granted the kinds of assumptions that underwrote New Critical close...
(The entire section is 9003 words.)
SOURCE: Klinkowitz, Jerome. “Later Fiction.” In Donald Barthelme: An Exhibition, pp. 109-26. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991.
[In the following essay, Klinkowitz surveys Barthelme's later short fiction, maintaining that these stories “are more relaxed and more generously entertaining, with as many comic effects as the earlier pieces but now with the humor not at the expense of an older tradition but drawn from the properties of Barthelme's own style.”]
The second half of Donald Barthelme's canon, accomplished in the fourteen years following publication of The Dead Father, sounds a different note in the tonality of his short fiction. The stories are more relaxed and more generously entertaining, with as many comic effects as the earlier pieces but now with the humor not at the expense of an older tradition but drawn from the properties of Barthelme's own style. No longer will Kafka or Tolstoy be asked to sit uncomfortably within the outrageously inappropriate confines of our postmodern world; instead, the author's confidence with that world will let him joke with it on its own terms. Nor will there be a cubist disorder of conversations at birthday parties or cinema vérité pieces that steadfastly refuse to cohere. There will be precious few fragments, for now Barthelme has more trust in his ability to comprehend an overall situation—and most of all trust that his readers will not...
(The entire section is 6766 words.)
SOURCE: Roe, Barbara L. “Part 1: The Short Fiction.” In Donald Barthelme: The Short Fiction, pp. 3-93. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992.
[In the following excerpt, Roe surveys Barthelme's later fiction and reflects on his legacy as a short fiction author.]
MORTAL VISIONS “VISITORS”
In 1981, when Barthelme turned 50, he seemed pleased with the view from this lookout. The years, he said, had tempered his anger over humanity's folly and taught him to “cherish” life more and more as there is “less and less time” (Brans, 131). The implications of mortality, however, preoccupy Barthelme's last decade of stories, as aging characters debate, deny, or crusade for their remaining prospects. Not surprisingly, gray often betokens their uncertain status. Depending on a character's perspective, for instance, gray hair is either the gloomy wreath of death or the respectable laurels of experience. Though Bishop, the 49-year-old protagonist of “Visitors,” still idles in the holding tank of middle age, he is beginning to feel the pinch of a silver crown.
Vulnerable to affection, understandably perplexed by the contradictions of age, Bishop never hides his humanity in caricature as so many other characters do. In fact, his story is among the least inventive but most candidly emotional of Barthelme's work. Bishop's cassoulet seduction of young, tanned...
(The entire section is 5816 words.)
SOURCE: Stengel, Wayne B. “Irony and the Totalitarian Consciousness in Donald Barthelme's Amateurs.” In Critical Essays on Donald Barthelme, edited by Richard F. Patteson, pp. 145-52. New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1992.
[In the following essay, Stengel analyzes three representative stories from Amateurs in order to differentiate Barthelme's early and later short fiction and to explore the relationship between irony and human consciousness in his work.]
At his best Donald Barthelme was a highly moral and political American short story writer. Moreover, for a decade or so—from the mid-sixties to the late seventies—in a plentiful, inventive stream of stories that often appeared first in the New Yorker, Barthelme challenged and enlarged the possibilities for short story form and short story expression. As the seventies proceeded, Barthelme's imaginative energies altered substantially. This phenomenon is apparent in Amateurs, Barthelme's fifth collection of short stories, published in 1976. There are four or five first-rate stories in this group of twenty-one, and yet even in the best of these Barthelme's vision seems tamed, controlled, even restrained by some of the very forces that his earlier writing so brilliantly destroyed or at least called into question. If the two most important vectors in Barthelme's short fiction are irony and human consciousness, as well as the...
(The entire section is 3306 words.)
Barthelme, Helen Moore. Donald Barthelme: The Genesis of a Cool Sound. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2001, 209 p.
Former wife of Barthelme recounts author's life and work.
Condini, Nereo E. Review of Sixty Stories, by Donald Barthelme. National Review XXXIV, no. 4 (5 March 1982): 246-47.
Brief review of Sixty Stories.
Giles, Paul. “Dead, but Still with Us.” Commonweal 158, no. 19 (8 November 1991): 637-40.
Finds a Catholic sensibility in Barthelme's stories.
Hudgens, Michael Thomas. Donald Barthelme: Postmodernist American Writer. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2001, 191 p.
Examines the story “Paraguay” among other writings by Barthelme in terms of postmodernism.
Klinkowitz, Jerome. “Donald Barthelme (April 7, 1931-July 23, 1989).” In A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English, edited by Erin Fallon, R. C. Feddersen, James Kurtzleben, Maurice A. Lee, and Susan Rochette-Crawley, pp. 57-64. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.
Overview of Barthelme's life and work.
Maltby, Paul. “Donald Barthelme.” In Dissident Postmodernists: Barthelme, Coover, Pynchon, pp. 43-81. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania...
(The entire section is 288 words.)