John Barth On with the Story: Stories

ISBN 13: 9780316083591

On with the Story: Stories

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9780316083591: On with the Story: Stories
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Using the venerable literary device of the bedtime story, which links fictions as different as The Arabian Nights and Charlotte's Web, John Barth ingeniously interweaves stories from an ongoing, high-spirited but deadly serious nocturnal game of tale-telling by a more or less desperate loving couple vacationing at their "last resort". As Scheherazade spun out her bedtime stories to save her life, the narrator of On with the Story spins out his to postpone The End, and to explore en route - wittily, mournfully, tenderly - love in modern life and postmodern literature. As the narrative cycles through the lifescapes of his subjects' stories, Barth affords a view both panoramic and microscopic of our own landscape. With eye and pen both sharp and beautiful he depicts love ranging from the obsessively puppy through the sophisticatedly fatigued, the delusionally murderous, even the quantum-physical, to the superbly fulfilled.

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Review:

John Barth has the paradoxical ability to turn literature on its head in a post-modern sense at the same time he employs a tour-de-force of traditional literary devices. In On with the Story, he tells a story within a story within a collection of short stories. To wit, an affluent and sophisticated retirement age couple is on vacation when the woman receives terrible news about her husband. Is he dying of cancer? Or is that another story? Have they faced death or have they not? With Barth, only the reader can say for sure, having engaged in an experience as unique as it is fascinating.

About the Author:

John Barth is currently Professor Emeritus in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

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