Barthelme 81 it is….

Okay, so of all the options for reading challenges I mentioned in yesterday’s post, none of them nagged at me quite like Barthelme. To push me even further in the direction of Barthelme, I encountered at random a discussion of Grace Paley yesterday afternoon. I’d never heard of Grace Paley (sorry…shameful I’m sure) until reading over the Barthelme list and here she was again! If I were mystical, or schizophrenic or Oprah, I’d say the universe was speaking to me.

Of the books on “The List,” I’ve only read two:

1) Hunger by Knut Hamsun (read last year) and

2) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (read 20 years ago as an undergraduate…but think it might be wise to reread it considering undergraduate reading usually meant skimming for exams).

What really sells me on Barthelme—what gives me the excited shivers–is that Beckett (ENTIRE) is there. Beckett is a god of writing to me. I love him more than I can say and can’t explain why. Not yet. I know dark humor is part of the attraction.  Also I love that Journey to the End of the Night is on there. I’ve started this book several times and really love it but for whatever reason end up leaving it around page 50 and jumping into other things.  The fact that Andre Breton is there makes me want to sing and dance.

Then there are the ones I’ve heard of and for whatever reason always felt bored or intimidated or not particularly interested in…like the poems, Mailer, O’Connor, and Carver.  Maybe actually reading them will turn me around.

So for those of you not familiar with the list (or didn’t click the link yesterday) I’ve pasted it below. I’m going to read it in any order and with no set deadline because I want to really absorb and spend time with each book and to say I could read them in one year or two would be silly…maybe even offensive. So here it is:

  • Flann O’Brien, At Swim Two-Birds
  • Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman
  • Isaac Babel, Collected Short Stories
  • Borges, Labyrinths
  • Borges, Other Inquisitions
  • Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Thomas Bernhard, Correction
  • Rudy Wurlitzer, Nog
  • Isaac B Singer, Gimpel the Fool
  • Bernard Malamud, The Assistant
  • Bernard Malamud, The Magic Barrel
  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
  • Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano,
  • Samuel Beckett entire
  • Knut Hamsun, Hunger
  • Max Frisch, I’m Not Stiller
  • Max Frisch, Man in the Holocene
  • Dinesen, Seven Gothic Tales
  • Tommaso Landolfi, Gogol’s Wife
  • Thomas Pynchon, V
  • John Hawkes, The Lime Twig
  • John Hawkes, Blood Oranges
  • Paley, Little Disturbances
  • Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
  • Susan Sontag, I, Etc.
  • Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle
  • Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces
  • Bellow, Henderson the Rain King
  • John Updike, The Coup
  • John Updike, Rabbit, Run
  • The Paris Review interviews
  • Rust Hills (ed.), How We Live
  • Joe David Bellamy (ed.), Superfiction
  • Puschart Prize Anthologies
  • Sternburg (ed.), The Writer on Her Work
  • André Breton, Manifestos of Surrealism
  • Motherwell (ed.), Documents of Modern Art
  • Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation
  • Hugh Kenner, A Homemade World
  • Flaubert, Letters
  • Mamet, Sexual Perversity in Chicago
  • Joy Williams, The Changeling
  • Joe David Bellamy (ed.), The New Fiction
  • Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato
  • Amos Tutola, The Palm-Wine Drunkard
  • Ann Tyler, Searching for Caleb
  • Kenneth Koch, Thank You
  • Frank O’Hara, Collected Poems
  • John Ashbery, Rivers and Mountains
  • Wesley Brown, Tragic Magic
  • Roland Barthes, Mythologies
  • Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
  • Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel
  • Ann Beattie, Falling in Place
  • William Gass, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country
  • Gass, Fiction and the Figures of Life
  • Gass, The World Within the Word
  • Mailer, Advertisements for Myself
  • Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
  • Celine, Journey to the End of the Night
  • Kobo Abe, The Box Man
  • Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
  • Peter Handke, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams
  • Peter Handke, Kaspar and Other Plays
  • André Breton, Nadja
  • John Barth, Chimera
  • Walker Percy, The Moviegoer,
  • Jayne Anne Phillips, Black Tickets
  • Peter Taylor, Collected Stories
  • Colette, The Pure and the Impure
  • Carver, Will You Please be Quiet, Please
  • John Cheever, Collected Stories
  • Leonard Michaels, I Would Have Saved Them if I Could
  • Eudora Welty, Collected Stories
  • Max Apple, The Oranging of America
  • Flannery O’Connor, Collected Stories
  • Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
  • Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
  • Carlos Fuentes, The Death of Artemio Cruz
  • Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
  • Wayne C Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction

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