Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Donald Barthelme (April 7, 1931 - July 23, 1989) was an American writer of short fiction and novels. He also worked as a newspaper reporter for the Houston Post , managing editor of Location magazine, director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston (1961-1962), and distinguished visiting professor of English, City College of the City University of New York (1974-75).
Though primarily a short story writer, he produced four novels: Snow White, The Dead Father, Paradise and The King. He wrote over one hundred short stories, collected in such books as Come Back, Dr. Caligari; Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts; City Life; and Sadness. Most of his stories are compiled in Sixty Stories and Forty Stories. He also wrote the nonfiction Guilty Pleasures and the collection Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme. With his daughter, he wrote the children's book The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine, and received the National Book Award for Children's Literature in 1972 for this effort. He was also a director of PEN and the Author's Guild, and a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Barthelme's short stories were often exceptionally compact (a form sometimes called "short-short story," "flash fiction," or "sudden fiction"), often focusing only on incident rather than complete narratives. (He did, however, write some longer stories with more traditional narrative arcs.) At first, these stories contained short epiphanic moments. Later in his career, the stories were not consciously philosophical or symbolic. His fiction had its admirers and detractors, being hailed as profoundly disciplined or derided as meaningless and academic. Barthelme's was a unique voice, and he is considered a major American prose writer, one of the most influential authors of postmodern fiction.
Barthelme's legacy as an educator lives on at the University of Houston, where he founded the prestigious Creative Writing Program. Authors who were influenced by Barthelme at Houston include novelist Robert Clark Young.
Donald Barthelme's brother Frederick Barthelme (1943 - ) is also a fiction writer and teacher.
- Come Back, Dr. Caligari (stories), Little, Brown (Boston), 1964.
- Snow White (novel), Atheneum (New York City), 1967.
- Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts (stories), Farrar, Straus (New York City), 1968.
- City Life (stories), Farrar, Straus, 1970.
- The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or the Hithering Thithering Djinn (children's book), Farrar, Straus, 1971.
- Sadness (stories), Farrar, Straus, 1972.
- Guilty Pleasures (parodies and satire), Farrar, Straus, 1974.
- The Dead Father (novel), Farrar, Straus, 1975.
- Amateurs (stories), Farrar, Straus, 1976.
- Great Days (stories; also see below), Farrar, Straus, 1979.
- Sixty Stories, Putnam (New York City), 1981.
- Overnight to Many Distant Cities (stories), Putnam, 1983.
- Great Days (play; based on his story of the same title), first produced off-Broadway at American Place Theater, 1983.
- Paradise (novel), Putnam, 1986.
- Sam's Bar, Doubleday (New York City), 1987.
- Forty Stories, Putnam, 1987.
- The King, Harper (New York City), 1990.
- The Teachings of Don B.: Satires, Parodies, Fables, Illustrated Stories and Plays of Donald Barthelme, edited by Kim Herzinger, Turtle Bay Books (New York City), 1992.
- Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme, Random House (New York City), 1997.
- Guggenheim fellowship, 1966
- Time Magazine Best Books of the Year list, 1971, for City Life
- National Book Award for children's literature, 1972, for The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or the Hithering Thithering Djinn
- Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1972
- Jesse H Jones Award from Texas Institute of Letters, 1976, for The Dead Father
- Nominated for National Book Critics Circle Award, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, all for Sixty Stories, all in 1982
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