Saturday, November 1, 2014

Frederick Barthelme

Frederick Barthelme's new novel is There Must Be Some Mistake.

From his Q & A with Gary Percesepe for The Nervous Breakdown:

This is the place where I ask you about the “big social novel in America” and tick off the names (and possibly egos) of innumerable literary “giants” in the land whose names may or may not be Franzen and I can’t remember any others, and observe how you work away from the allegedly great to embrace the tiny. Less, better. Small ball. You’ve been playing like this for a while, and I see you are not going to change now. Bravo. But why? Remind us.

Those books seem like TV to me. They never get the particulars right, and often they’re not close, so they end up parodies of experience—bound and readable TV shows. Many readers are comfortable with that, so there’s a huge market and lots of people, from the well known to the publish-it-yourself writers at Amazon, are eager to deliver the product. Like good movies, good literary books are fewer and smaller and harder to find.

Dare I ask yet again what you think of “minimalism” from this distance of years. You were, as I recall, charged with this crime by the lit police in the 1980s.

Minimalism is an old and dear friend. Start with the idea that I began as a painter, and minimalism was a term used in painting and sculpture a couple decades before it was applied in the literary arts. It had real descriptive value in painting and sculpture, but less so in fiction, where it took on the pejorative dimension not present in criticism of the plastic arts. When it was used stupidly it...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue