Saturday, July 16, 2005

El Padre Muerto

I finished reading Donald Barthelme's The Dead Father the other day. I'd previously read a book of short stories by Barthelme which I really enjoyed. I don't always have the words to describe what I think of Barthelme's writing -- its often very comic and surreal, with Kafka like situations of different realities with different rules. For example, this book consists of a group of 19 working men pulling The Dead Father (who is only sort of dead and apparantly very gigantic) across the country side so that he can roll himself in the Golden Fleece. They are supervised by a man and a woman. Most of the conversations take place between the man, the woman, and the dead father. And about halfway through the book, there is an old-tymey book-within-the-book called "A Manual for Sons" (translated from the English by Peter Scatterpatter), complete with woodcuts. Although the book is probably full of symbols, I mostly enjoy Barthelme for the ways in which he plays with language and expectation. The book is often very funny, and has a really unique structure and way of bringing back phrases and repeating them in new situations. I think overall I enjoyed his short stories a little more than this novel, but both are very much worth reading.

[By the way, Barthleme may somehow connected to the Dan Rather "What's the Frequency, Kenneth? mystery...]

4 comments:

Air Wolf said...
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Air Wolf said...

This time...
I only knew of the phrase, "Whats the frequency Kenneth" from a Clowes' comic "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron" and from an REM song. Its neat catching the back end of a cultural reference and even neater having its source resolved, and freaken neatest when its source is Dan Rather getting his ass beat down! HELL YEAH!

kristykay said...

I love "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron" -- I totally want to read it again. And now that REM song is in my head. Thanks, jerk.

Krouchdog said...

I too love "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron". It freakin' freaks me out man.