Barthelme, Donald

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Barthelme, Donald

Donald Barthelme (bärt´əlmē), 1931–89, American writer, b. Philadelphia. The son of an architect, he grew up in Texas, moved (1962) to New York City, worked as a curator and an editor, and taught creative writing at several universities. In his short stories and novels, Barthelme describes a world so unreal that traditional modes of fiction can no longer encompass it. His stories are frequently literary collages, employing advertising jargon, bits of text from other writers' works, counterfeit footnotes, recondite allusions, and various typographical and narrative extravagances to fit his own private and ironic vision of an absurd reality. Barthelme's works include the novels Snow White (1967) and The Dead Father (1975); the short-story collections Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts (1968), City Life (1970), Sadness (1972), Great Days (1979), and Sixty Stories (1981); a collection of nonfiction pieces, Guilty Pleasures (1974); and a children's book (1971).

See biography by T. Daugherty (2009); memoirs by his brothers F. and S. Barthelme (1999) and his ex-wife H. M. Barthelme (2001); studies by L. Gordon (1981), W. B. Stengel (1985), S. Trachtenberg (1990), R. F. Patteson, ed. (1992), B. L. Roe (1992), and M. T. Hudgens (2001).

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