Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE
During his fifty-eight-year lifetime Donald Barthelme published more than one hundred short stories in The New Yorker and authored sixteen books. He was a contemporary and friend of Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Susan Sontag, and Norman Mailer, and has received recent tributes from Dave Eggers and George Saunders. He had a volatile private life and his search for a place in American letters took him across the country, briefly to Denmark, and through a host of occupations. When he wasn't hiding, he was passionately searching and living. Barthelme's writing is a found-art-style mix of pop culture and high literature that is surprisingly funny and playful. This "excellent biography" (The New Yorker) "pursue[s] Barthelme's art to its shuddering core. . . . The enthusiasm is catching" (The Wall Street Journal).
for another spot. Discouraged, Helen “decided there was nothing for [her] to do.” She returned to Houston and moved in with her mother. Don’s affair with Lynn Nesbit hastened the end of things. “Helen would have hung on forever,” Herman Gollob says. She resumed her work at the ad agency and began teaching again at Dominican College. “[W]ithin a short time,” she said, “I started a new social life without Don.” She was soaring above the mess. Don felt restless on Fifteenth Street now—he
lose. The offer was extraordinary, given that Angell had accepted only two pieces so far. Don’s writing was “breathtaking,” Angell thought, even in the stories that didn’t work. Here was a special and singular talent. So Angell took a chance—perhaps seizing an opportunity to intensify his little “war” with the rest of the magazine. Soon after “The Piano Player” appeared in the August 31 issue, William Maxwell, another fiction editor, a fine writer, and a man of genteel tastes, told Angell the
Barthelme, Come Back, Dr. Caligari (Boston: Little, Brown, 1964), 14. page 140 She found the time spent on type fonts: In a 1972 interview, Don said, “I enjoy . . . problems of design. I could very cheerfully be a typographer.” See “Interview with Jerome Klinkowitz, 1971–72,” in Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews, ed. Kim Herzinger (New York: Random House, 1997), 201. page 141 “evolved a new type dress”: Donald Barthelme, letter to Maurice Natanson, October 17, 1957, Special Collections and
178–183. 50. Still Life page 437 “I know that Donald was good for the university”: John Barth, “Professor Barthelme,”Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Art, 4, no. 1 (1991): 17–18. page 437 “No longer will Kafka or Tolstoy be asked to sit”: Jerome Klinkowitz, Donald Barthelme: An Exhibition (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1991), 109. page 437 “He would often talk to me about new types of VCRs”: Phillip Lopate, “The Dead Father: A Remembrance of Donald Barthelme,”
place again, starting with the theaters. He spent long afternoons in the familiar old seats, hiding inside the Majestic, Loew’s, the River Oaks, watching shoot-’em-ups, gangsters, and eating buttered popcorn. There was the El Patio Restaurant on Kirby Street: a sea of melted cheese, chili peppers, good cold beer. Downtown was Guy’s Newsstand, next to—amazing!—a block of new Korean shops. Guy’s offered over three thousand magazines on every subject from stock tips to tits, including German rags