Rated Almost Clean – Maya drops the s-word once. Other than that, safe!

Next week’s story is The Nose by Nikolai Gogol. (Updated Fri Sept 11 for a better translation)

The School by Donald Barthelme received high marks all around. We appreciated its ability to address a serious theme with lightness and humor. The absurdist narrative may be a first for the podcast, and perhaps it is only appropriate that Maya, Gerald, and Anais went into the weeds a bit, comparing the story to wines and candy.

Don’t forget, to rate the story! For the history of our goofy system, see Anais’ post “Read Short Stories or Ray Bradbury Cries.” If you want to design a Bradberry, we’d love to see it. On a scale of 1-6 Bradberries, how do you rate “Bloodchild“? Tell us in the comments below or via voicemail, and we will give the final tally on the next episode.

Listener’s last week gave Bloodchild by Octavia Butler 5 bradberries.

Next week’s story is The Nose by Nikolai Gogol. (Updated Fri Sept 11 for a better translation)

2 comments on The School – Donald Barthelme – Literary Roadhouse Ep 31

  1. Gerald Hornsby says:

    Thanks, Richard.
    I feel that, like art, fiction is subjective. There is no bad fiction – some is pleasing to the ear, some is challenging.

  2. Richard says:

    I too enjoyed the story a lot, although I didn’t think it was really representative of his best and craziest work. At his strangest, Barthelme stories are like ultramodern art. You don’t read them and smile; you scratch your head, or maybe just shake it.

    Still, this is a really good story, and the discussion covered a lot of points that I saw in it, along with a bunch that had not occurred to me. One topic that I think can use some additional discussion is irony. Each time I go back and read that story, I get a little more suspicious of what he is doing.

    &quot;Irony is a means of depriving the object of its reality in order that the subject may feel free.&quot;<br />    —“Kierkegaard Unfair to Schlegel” (1968)

    I saw that quote in an outstanding book review in the February 23, 2009, New Yorker, entitled "Saved From Drowning." The review, written by Louis Menand, covers a biography of Barthelme, and fills in a lot of background on the author and his contemporaries and influences.

    In the case of this story, I think it is death that is deprived of its reality, so life can go free. Life is the subject. As the narrator says, "live is that which gives meaning to life." Whether it’s sex with a teaching assistant or a new gerbil.

    I’ll give it 5 Bradberries. Flawlessly written, but didn’t aim high enough for me to give it a 6.

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