Paris Review Daily - Blog, Writers, Poets, Artists - Paris Review
Donald Barthelme would’ve been, and should be, eighty-three today. It would be an exaggeration to say that I feel the absence of someone whom I never met—someone who died when I was three—but I do wonder, with something more than mere curiosity, what Barthelme would have made of the past twenty-odd years. These are decades I feel we’ve processed less acutely because he wasn’t there to fictionalize them: their surreal political flareups, their new technologies, their various zeitgeists and intellectual fads and dumb advertisements. Part of what I love about Barthelme’s stories is the way they traffic in cultural commentary without losing their intimacy, their humanity. But I’m losing the thread. My point is not to reveal a secret wish that Barthelme was my uncle. I wanted to say something about lists. A zombie advances toward a group of thin blooming daughters and describes, with many motions of his hands and arms, the breakfasts they may expect in a zombie home.
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