Bartheleme Enjoys a Revival

New Yorker writer Louis Menand reviews a new biography, Hiding Man, about the perplexing postmodernist Donald Barthelme. Deconstructor of literature and peer to Pynchon and Sontag, Barthelme was a staple of literary postmodernism, which Menand calls the "Swiss Army knife of critical concepts." His short stories were marked by a generous use of non-sequiturs and Joycian streams of consciousness. Hiding Man is a piece of Barthelme revival and is written by Tracy Daugherty, a former student of the author who does not restrain his admiration. Barthelme grew up the son of an avant-garde architect in Houston, and, as a result, his literary style was influenced not by other writers, but by features of modern art and architecture. Maybe that explains why some of his stories make Pynchon look like a high school reading assignment.