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The Law of Averages

New and Selected Stories

List Price: $17.95

June 22, 2001 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.3, 384 Pages | ISBN 9781582431574
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New York Times Notable Book for 2000 


The Law of Averages collects twenty-nine stories that rattle around in the fertile field of ordinary life in America; they embrace the plain, the drab, and the dull with the same warmth as the miraculous and exquisite. These sharp and touching stories strike at the heart of our time and reveal and reflect the sometimes funny, often bizarre details that routinely disrupt the delicate balance of our lives. This is a collection of ordinary, complex pleasures.

FREDERICK BARTHELME was a founding member, with Mayo Thompson, of the ongoing art/psychedelic rock band Red Krayola, and a painter and conceptual artist in Houston and New York in the late 1960s. His work in that area appears in many of the seminal publications of the movement including Lucy Lippard’s The Dematerialization of the Art Object, Donald Karshan’s exhibition catalog Conceptual Art and Conceptual Aspects, several of Seth Siegelaub’s projects, and other books and monographs on the movement.


“When Barthelme is good, he’s astoundingly good.” —New York Times Book Review

“This collection of 29 stories, including several new ones and spanning 20 years of the author’s career, exhibits Barthelme’s (Bob the Gambler) power as a miniaturist, expertly finding drama and meaning in those fleeting, significant moments when the raised voice or the irreparable breach are avoided… Many of the older tales (some were published in Esquire, GQ and the New Yorker) in this collection display Barthelme’s burgeoning gift for polished prose, nuanced dialogue and short, zinger sentences, while the more recent ones tend toward a relaxation of those fine-tuned characteristics. All of these stories together, however, show off the range of this wickedly intelligent writer’s unique craft.” —Publishers Weekly

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