Saturday, 21 January 2012

Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby by Donald Barthelme (4.5/5)


The back says: Donald Barthelme is a puckish player with language, a write of short but endlessly rewarding comic gems, a thinker and an experimenter. In these nine short stories, whether writing about a hairy, donkeyish king or a touching, private gesture of city-sized proportions, his is a surreal, deadpan genius.

I say:
I’m in utter and irrevocable love with David Barthelme.


I bought this collection of short stories solely because of the title – I had never heard of Barthelme before – and I’m so glad I did. My favourite was the title story, and I just knew I was going to fall in love with it when it started with these words of awesome:
 
“Some of us had been threatening our friend Colby for a long time, because of the way he had been behaving. And now he’d gone too far, so we decided to hang him. Colby argued that just because he had gone too far (he did not deny that he had gone too far) did not mean that he should be subject to hanging. Going too far, he said, was something everybody did sometimes. We didn’t pay much attention to his argument. We asked him what sort of music he would like played at the funeral.” – p 1

Barthelme is, in these nine stories, incredibly witty, profound and alluringly surreal. Some of the stories had me wondering what exactly was going on, and it wasn’t until the end that I went “aaahh ok, I see what you did there.”

I love that feeling.

I laughed out loud. A lot. And I kept wondering how full of genius Barthelme must be. I am ordering more of his work –

I’ve found a new love.

Favourite stories: Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby, I Bought a Little City, The School, and Game.

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