Books & Reviews

“For an alleged minimalist, Frederick Barthelme has always displayed a hearty appetite tor the luminous and the extravagant, a faith in the power of serendipity to transform the anesthetized life. His disaffected characters drift through their New South condo complexes . . . their responses so disconnected and elliptical that astonishment has ample room to sneak into the spaces between.” Francine Prose (on Two Against One)

“It’s impossible to conceive of any writer doing what he does any better than he does it . . . His textures are impeccable: Rich, brightly colored, they seem to float on an underlying vacancy like mirages, leaving the reader dizzy and a little sunstruck. He has a hard, shiny, many-faceted insect’s eye for the surfaces of things . . . second only to Raymond Chandler’s.” —Margaret Atwood (on Moon Deluxe)

“I admire Frederick Barthelme’s peculiar grasp of the slant side of human relationships . . . superbly written and very funny.”  —Raymond Carver (on Moon Deluxe)

“In the more full-bodied stories in Chroma . . . Mr. Barthelme really demonstrates his gifts as a writer—his ability to move us while also making us laugh and see. On the surface, nothing terribly significant appears to happen . . . and yet, in the course of such stories we are allowed to witness tiny, hidden moments of vulnerability, intimacy and even beauty.”   —Michiko Kakutani (on Chroma)

“One of the constants in his highly praised fiction has been his dead-on presentation of suburban life, of an apartment-complex and mall culture where, as the Holiday Inn slogan puts it, ‘the best surprise is no surprise.’ Another constant has been a quality of fast, fresh exchange that makes the dialogue in so many other novels and stories sound like—dialogue.”   —Amy Hempel (on Natural Selection)

“[Barthelme] is one of the most distinctive prose stylists since Hemingway, capable of writing sentences so sharp and crisp and suggestive they have a palpable glow.”   —Bret Easton Ellis (on Painted Desert)

 

Double Down

“[a] superb (and horrifying) memoir… Double Down is also an unsentimental, even edgy meditation on the loss of one’s parents and the often crazy-making trauma of being orphaned in midlife.”       Entertainment Weekly

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The Law of Averages

“This omnibus collection from the master of the low-key epiphany illuminates, with irony and awe, the surfaces of modern American life.”  The New Yorker

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Elroy Nights

“In an extended passage near the end of Elroy Nights, Elroy remembers his childhood, and Barthelme’s rhythms, his choice of objects, of sensory detail, accrues with an elegiac bitter sweetness.” —Boston Phoenix

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Waveland

“As clever and precise as a French farce; except that instead of doors opening sharply on one side and slamming shut on the other, these dangle indecisively ajar.”  The Boston Globe

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There Must Be Some Mistake

“Barthelme, a master of minimalist suburbia-set fiction (Waveland), returns with a buoyantly offbeat murder tale that doubles as a meditation on everything from contemporary art to Google to mortality.” Publisher’s Weekly

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