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420 Dating review

Postmodern lists of unrelated items and categories abound in a typical Barthelme story

Postmodern lists of unrelated items and categories abound in a typical Barthelme story

Then, of course, there was “The Balloon,” one of Barthelme’s most reprinted and celebrated stories, which assembles roughly five pages of public commentary on the appearance of a non-specifically described balloon that appears above Manhattan’s 14th Street (“the exact location of which I cannot reveal”) and “expanded northward.” And while the balloon elicits much “public warmth” from “ordinary citizens,” the critical reaction bristles with complications:

The meaninglessness of personal life extends everywhere-into ilies, careers, cities, politics, and even the sky-across which Barthelme’s balloon-image of everythingness soars free from everything except human interpretation. His characters go looking to meet women at Manhattan loft parties where they encounter King Kong being groomed by his girlfriend, Cynthia Garmonsway. (“Cynthia formerly believed in the ‘enormous diversity of things’; now she believes in Kong.”)