DONALD BARTHELME was a writer and critic, a National Book Award recipient, a director of PEN and the Authors Guild, a member of the American Academy and the Institute of Arts and Letters, and a founder of the renowned University of Houston Creative Writing Program. He was the author of more than fifteen published books, including City Life, one of Time’s Best Books of the Year, and Sixty Stories, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Even after his death in 1989, Barthelme’s contributions to the world of American letters remain unparalleled.
KIM HERZINGER is a critic and fiction writer, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and writer on minimalism and other contemporary literary phenomena. He edited most recently Flying to America: 45 More Stories. He teaches at the University of Southern Mississippi.
“It is possible… to trace [in Flying to America] the author’s development from an early postmodern baroque… to the fragmentary, almost minimalist style of his late-’60s and early-’70s prime.” —Los Angeles Times
“Flying to America’s Barthelmanian treasures: three previously unpublished stories, one of which he was working on at his death; his first published story (1959); the winning entry of a contest in which the author asked readers to finish a story of which he’d written the first three paragraphs; and a bunch of masterful work from The New Yorker . . . some of these stories—‘Flying to America,’ ‘Three,’ ‘Tickets’—were among his very best.” —New York Magazine
“Donald Barthelme… creates a crowd of characters whose struggle ‘ill-advised’ optimism and struggle for meaning mirror his own life’s effort.” —Chicago Tribune
“Barthelme’s legacy resides as much in his sensibility as in the stories themselves. His style melded the personal and the political with reams of detailed book learning. It’s likely a combination of those elements—the confessional, polemical and esoteric (I quiver to think what Barthelme would have done with the Internet)—that people are responding to in his work today. He may have been radical in his time, but he’s perfectly suited to our own.” —Houston Chronicle
“Barthelme’s collection arrives like a wondrous jewel unearthed.” —Literary Journal
“Most of these stories have the signature style that made Barthelme as pervasive through the ’60s as Peter Max—the dialogue that never quite connects, as if two people are talking past each other, the non sequiturs that suggest that literary cause-and-effect is merely artifice, an exercise in absurdity . . . There is the first story that he ever published, using a pseudonym (‘Pages from the Annual Report’), and the last that he published in the New Yorker (‘Tickets’) just months before his 1989 death.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Along with Kurt Vonnegut, Barthelme (1931–1989) was one of the great 20th-century American absurdists . . . Barthelme’s funhouse mirrors reflect the world’s tragicomic essence.” —Publishers Weekly