Thomas Pynchon defined what he termed “vintage Barthelmismo” as “fictions thoughtfully concocted and comfortably beyond the reach of time.” This moving tribute to Donald Barthelme by Padgett Powell from the forthcoming anthology, A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors, is right in line with Pynchon’s sentiment. Here’s another Barthelme mention from The Millions that you may be interested in.
“Literature is the record we have of the conversation between those of us now alive on earth and everyone who’s come before and will come after, the cumulative repository of humanity’s knowledge, wonder, curiosity, passion, rage, grief and delight. It’s as useless as a spun-sugar snowflake and as practical as a Swiss Army knife.” Dana Stevens and Adam Kirsch discuss whether literature should be considered useful.
He befriended Mark Twain. His father wrote The Scarlet Letter. He drank wine with Oscar Wilde, George Eliot and Henry James, and William Randolph Hearst once hired him as a reporter. He even published a few books to critical acclaim. So why do so few of us know anything about Julian Hawthorne? In the WaPo, Michael Dirda reviews a new biography. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)