This is a good book for completists. I was sad reading this book because I knew when I finished it there would be no more Barthelme that I hadn’t read and all I could ever do was re-read him [or drag up old essays from architectural magazines, or go to Texas and dig through his papers] but I think this book is actually a good goodbye. Some of it’s marvelous and all of it’s fascinating, but there are definitely some pieces here that drag.
I mean, in many of his books there is a piece or two that maybe aren’t as spunky as the others, but you can sort of see how they all fit together with the group as a whole. Even though this collection was ably curated by Kim Herzinger, there wasn’t that same sense of “oh this story isn’t so good on its own but combined with the one before it and the one after it, it begins to make some sense in a weird Barthelme sort of way” I just didn’t like some of these stories and that’s pretty much okay. Generally speaking this was a joy to read. The book is attractive, it’s hefty and there are notes in the back which is my favorite part, really, of any short story collection. Where did this story come from? Where has it been?