The wildly varied essays in Not-Knowing combine to form a posthumous manifesto of one of America’s masters of literary experiment. Here are Barthelme’s thoughts on writing (his own and others); his observations on art, architecture, film, and city life; interviews, including two previously unpublished; and meditations on everything from Superman III to the art of rendering “Melancholy Baby” on jazz banjolele.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.”
The Essays and Interviews
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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.
John Barth was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and attended Johns Hopkins University before writing his celebrated first novel, The Floating Opera, in 1956. Since then, he has produced more than fifteen collections of short stories, essays, and novels that have won prestigious accolades, including the National Book Award and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award. He divides his time between Maryland and Florida.
KIM HERZINGER is a critic who writes on minimalism and other contemporary literary phenomena, a Pushcart Prize-winning writer of fiction, and the editor of two other Donald Barthelme collections, Not-Knowing and The Teachings of Don B. He taught at the University of Southern Mississippi and now owns and operates Left Bank Books in New York City.
"Such a warm and wise voice! Such a companionable volume." --Newsday
"Wonderful." --The Newark Star-Ledger
"The delight he offers readers is beyond question; his individuality is unmatched." --Los Angeles Times
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