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The Essays and Interviews

Edited and with a Preface by Kim Herzinger

List Price: $15.95

January 28, 2008 | Paperback |  5.25 x 8, 352 Pages | ISBN 9781593761738
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When Donald Barthelme died at the age of fifty-four, 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 capture 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 meditation 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.”

DONALD BARTHELME is a winner of the National Book Award and the author of over seventeen books, including Flying to America, 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. He was a founder of the renown University of Houston Creative Writing Program where he taught for many years. He died in 1989.

KIM HERZINGER (editor) 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.


“While this collection provides an opportunity to read Barthelme’s previously unpublished work, it also encourages new generations of writers and readers to encounter Barthelme’s wit, originality, sensitivity, and skill for the first time. His diversity of subject matter and oddities of expression and the marvelous spin he put on ordinary life all add to the overall impression that Barthelme’s death left a wide gap in our contemporary writing, one that is not likely to be filled anytime soon.” —Booklist

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