Experimentation with the absurd, both in theme and technique, is by no means a totally new development in literature, especially for those readers familiar with the works of Camus, Kafka, Beckett, Genêt, and Robbe-Grillet. Like these writers, Mr. Barthelme satirizes and mimics most of the clichés of our popular culture, and, through the predicaments of his characters, makes the reader ask Why? Yet these predicaments, although bizarre, inane, and usually surrealistic, do not necessarily contain the morose connotations of most writers of the absurd. For example, in one tale the narrator is thirty-five years old, six feet tall, with the logic and reasoning of an adult. He is in the sixth grade, where Miss Mandible, his teacher, is frustrated in her desires to have an affair with him because, officially, he is a child!
These imaginative stories of dark humor, some of which have appeared in The New Yorker, are to be interpreted on many levels, and offer refreshing and thoroughly exciting reading.[展开]
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