In a previous John Barth review tells us directly how he is reuired to develop a plot and theme by getting down and dirty into some serious conflicts and complications Of course big difference between talking about conflicts and actual conflicts just as there is a big difference between reading about a fistfight and the reality of exchanging blows and coming home with a bloody nose The authors of metafiction have the smallest number of bloody noses per page compared with all other genres No kidding I did the counting myself Pastiche In postmodern literature pasting together various genres or styles Not to be outdone John John pastes together a story with digressions on grammar direct addresses to the reader William Faulkner swearwords reflections on self reflexive fiction writing among others And by the way in one of his other stories collected here Menelaiad an entire paragraph consists of uotation marks Minimalism As it turns out this John Barth collection includes a life story compressed into fourteen pages and an autobiography boiled down into six pages Does it get any minimal that that One way minimalism can be defined is the manner in which an author will provide the barest descriptions and ask the reader to fill in the blanks Again not to be outdone in Title John John asks us directly to fill in the blank at least once and in other passages we are asked indirectly to fill in the blanks By my latest count I filled in the blank twenty seven times Maximalism Thou shall leave no literary device unturned In his author s Forward to this collection John Barth informs us writers tend by temperament to be either sprinters or marathoners and how really really short fiction is not his long suit But after tapping many the literary device in a string of doorstopper novels he wanted to by golly get his fiction in those collections of short stories the kind of books he always uses to teach from Not all of a writer s motives are pure Thus we have Title and the other short stories here Got to hand it to ou Sir John Violin Fingering It's Theory and Practice Da Capo Press music reprint series you are a maximalist with a vengeance Metafiction A close cousin with a story about a story metafiction deals with writing about writing And there is plenty of such in Title as when we read Once upon a timeou were satisfied with incidental felicities and niceties of techniue the unexpected image the refreshingly accurate word choice the memorable simile that Anxiety Between Desire and the Body yields deeper and subtler significances upon reflection like a memorable smile Somebody please stop me No problem John John I ll stopou As the dice below spell out we have reached the end I hope this short review provides enough information to enable a reader to judge if Lost in the Funhouse is our cupcake of tea And that s T as in Title Indeed if I have et to join the hosts of the suicides it is because fatigue apart I find it no meaningfuller to drown myself than to go on swimming John Barth Lost in the FunhouseDarwin ate U his mark A Once upon a time there was a review that began B view spoiler bOnce upon a time there was a review that began a hide spoiler Something Similar Writers learn from their experience of other writers as well as from their experience of life in the world it was the happy marriage of form and content in Borges s ficciones the way he regularly turned his narrative means into part of his message that suggested how I might try something similar in my way and with my materialsInterstitialiad Go on Say itNow Featuring Italicised Barth For whom is the funhouse fun Perhaps for loversFor ME For YOU Perhaps for US Literarily a COUPLE of LOVERSof LITERATUREInsert Plot Here What s all this leading up toIs there a plot hereWhat is the story s themeEach sees himself as the hero of the story when the truth might turn out to be that he s the villain or the cowardMore ImaginationLess really is More other things being eualNo reader would put up with so much with such sic prolixityNobody has enough imaginationThere aren t enough different ways to say thatAuthor Narrator Character ReaderI m not who ou think I am I m not the author I m not John Barth I didn t write
this I m not writing this Who s telling the story and to whomSurely it s not the I m not writing this Who s telling the story and to whomSurely it s not the then to whom is it being told The reader You dogged uninsultable print oriented bastard it s ou I m addressing who else from inside this monstrous fictionI m not talking It s not me speaking to Ska youI was once imagined by the author and nowou re imagining me I exist only in the imagination though in between I am written down Or typed up If I m going to be a fictional character I want to be in a rousing good arn as they say not some piece of avant garde preciousnessThe Imagined HeroI m not the man I used to be My problem was I had too much imagination to be a heroI am not an average American I am the #NECTAR AND AMBROSIA OF LEGENDS PAST AND YET TO #and ambrosia of legends past and et to Oh God comma I abhor self consciousnessHe wonders will he become a regular personIs there really such a person as Ambrose or is he a figment of the author s imaginationThe closely an author identifies with the narrator literally or metaphorically the less advisable it is as a rule to use the first person narrative viewpointNobody likes a pedantNeeded TellingCan nothing be made meaningful Our story s finished before it startsOff with the narrator On with the story It s not a short story I told him I tell it as it was I don t know why it needed tellingIt is important to keep the senses operatingSpring pose splashAt this point they were both despite themselvesLet the reader see the serious wordplay on second readingFiction In FactThe climax of the story must be its protagonist s discovery of a way to get through the funhouseAha said Mother I shall never forget this moment It is perfectly normal We have all been through it It will not last foreverNo character in a work of fiction can make a speech this long without interruption or acknowledgement from the other charactersIn the end they d be lovers their dialogue lines would match upThe world was going on This part ought to be dramatisedIn fiction the merely true must always Becoming Project Five Fifteen yield to the plausibleSuch are the walls of customHere was one of Western Culture s truly great imaginationsThe last word in fiction in factThe Implied VictorWait the story s not finishedThe fact is the narrator has narrated himself into a corner a state of affairs tsk tsk than boo hoo and because his position is absurd he calls the world absurdHe was so sophistical a character as likely to annoy than to engageSelf defeat implies a victor and who doou suppose it is One manifestation of schizophrenia as everybody knows is the movement from reality toward fantasy a progress which not infreuently takes the form of distorted and fragmented representation abstract formalism an increasing preoccupation even obsession with pattern and design for their own sakes especially patterns of a baroue enormously detailed character to the virtual exclusion of representative content Speechless with SympathyHe looked through a lavender cascade of hysteria that surrounded the window of the study in the old family summer residence At this point pathological boredom leads to a final desire for death and nothingness the Romantic syndromeThe idea pleased himRead This SentenceWill Britain, Australia and the Bomb you denyou ve read this sentence I went on I go on ThisIs it enough to end this story with a uestion mark Or better still a full stop view spoiler If I fail to exclaim with wonder or otherwise respond it will be that I m speechless with sympathy Or something similar hide spoiler Disappointing This soi disant landmark in experimental fiction was stuffed with endless exercises in indulgence vague and rambling stories pretentious non seuiturs and assorted Greek gibberish The title piece Title and Petition were the only engaging and amusing stories here Most of the collection indulges in Barth s obsession with Victorian writing and Greek myth Night Sea Journey Meneliad and Anonymiad are insufferable despite the clever tricks and rare flashes of wit The middle story plays a brain busting game with the metafiction format though the content sags badly This territory has been explored with twice the panache by Gil Sorrentino Barth s work skews towards the cold and academic whereas Sorrentino never loses his steely humanity in spite of the high wire games. Everal themes common to them all giving them new meaning in the context of this collection.
D and Anonymiad For the former it helps to 1 at least be acuainted with Greek mythology if not have recently read The Odyssey which I have 5 times in the past five Kiffe Kiffe Demain years since I teach that work 2 not worry too much about all the nested uotation marks the first time through We get it Menelaus immortality is real if linguistic this isn t the voice of Menelaus this voice is Menelaus all there is of himSo the way I read LitF is not as discrete stories but as a curated set which read together comprise a work if not a novel of sorts I tend to think that the heady minstrel Ambrose is the narrating author of Title and Life Story penning his own crack up So when Barth heads up his ass in Menelaid and Anonymiad he comes out on the other side of sanity into a fully fictional world that he can now manipulate as author in the same way conventional folk perambulate He s a character whose awareness of his own fictionality has unmoored him from his docking my crux my core I m cuttingou out there at the heart never to be filled a mere lacuna 177To go further would transmogrify review essay Suffice to say that if one is enough of a trouper to soldier through the middle section there s a big pay out Or at least there was for me To be moved to art instead of to action by one s wretchedness may preserve one s life and sanity at the same time it may leave one wretcheder Sanzoku Ou King of Bandits Vol 9 yet 117Here we make an end bereft of all reference points Lost in the Funhouse 4255 Well to be honest I found this book to be almost as painful as La Disparition by Georges Perec reviewed here on GR It was full of inter textual and metafiction notes in other words the author talking to himself about how the reader should or could interpret his works his choices of words his choices of plot devices etc There is no linear narrative other than a few chapters with the same character Ambrose and his own set of neuroses I can see why the book was a bit revolutionary particularly in the hard to read section Menelaiad where he uotes inside of uotes inside of uotes and the Anonymiad which is again some belly bottom writing about writing about writing It was not rea I ve discovered I prefer my postmodernism in light doses enriching rather than supplanting the traditional parts of literature like plot and character It s all very well to dive into the deep end now and then but I will only followou so long as Assassin's Creed Valhalla - Artbook officiel you have a good reason for being there It s all extremely clever and original but throughout too much of Lost in the Funhouse I felt the author had very little meaningful to say Stories which are about writing stories in which nothing happens except the author talking about how he is writing a story in which nothing happens saying isn t this all uite boring but thenou knew it was going to be boring because I told Becoming Enlightened you it would be andet even as I say this Jim Hensons Labyrinth you keep reading ha ha joke s onou But that s the point Basic Training you say It says so much about our expectations of literature and the relationship between the writer and reader Sure I get it And I m withou the first time maybe even the second But then let s please move on to something else This collection starts off really uite promisingly some of the first half is excellent but with each story proceeds to hammer the same single tired tone only a little harder each time until there s nothing left but a great piercing din and all ou really want to do is just leave the room and sit in silence for a while I left the room at some point in the Greek cycle it was just too much for me Two very brilliant stories and a whole kaboodle of indigestible bollocks Yes I confess to skipping lightly and sprightly over the last three Greek mythology based items What is it with this Greek tripe But like many a cd I have purchased the two good ones were worth the price of entry This collection is it says here a major landmark of experimental fiction Well as landmarks go it was a bit of a Hadrian s WallTourist Where s Hadrian s wallLocal inhabitant of the area It s right thereTourist What that That s Hadrian s WallLocal Yes That s it Turns away to hide smileGREAT EXPERIMENTAL SHORT STORIESI love ones that work and these are my must read favouritesThe Library of Babylon Jorge Luis BorgesThe Aleph Jorge Luis BorgesHe takes absolutely mental ideas and applies a freezing cold scholarly logic to themThe Terminal Beach J G BallardA prose poem with most of the repertoire of sinister Ballard symbols included I think he missed the empty swimming pool this time The Babysitter Robert CooverAstonishingly creepy and exciting he takes a stock horror story situation babysitter menaced by house intruder and chops it all up into fragments of time uite a simple method which touches of genius sometimes are Read it hereNight Sea Journey John BarthLost in the Funhouse John Barththe first a
Theological Monologue By A Spermatozoa Described Bymonologue by a spermatozoa described by Nicholls as insufferable but by P Bryant as dazzling witty and daringly post Bonhoefferian the second a wonderful exercise in decay and rot the jejune story plods along and is attacked from within by its own grammar assumptions cliches and syntax The Suirrel Cage Thomas Dischthis is probably poor man s Beckett but I still love this story of a man in a cageFranz Kafka by Jorge Luis Borges Alvin Greenbergthis is a riff on Borges of course and is the most fun ou can have with the Argentinian librarian without going up to him and tickling himThe Great Hug Donald BarthelmeThe Balloon Donald BarthelmeBarthelme he had this golden period where everything he did was hilarious and mad so I could have chosen any of about 15 Outside the golden period he s obscurantist and as much fun as the crap stories in Lost in the Funhouse which is zero fun If I was of a mind I would get The Great Hug tattooed on my body so that Dancing with Ben Hall and Other Yarns you could read the whole story it s not that long from heel to neck and round and down again Then I could go on tv as Donald Barthelme s greatest fan which would be untrue because I m not But his good stuff is from another dimensionou know the fifthSex Story Robert Gluckcan t talk about this much and it s definitely not safe for workAnt Colony Alissa Nuttingsee my reviewThe Entertainment District Tony Burgessthis is a section from a tiny novel Ravenna Gets but it s a short piece on its own and er wowHappy Endings Margaret Atwoodshe s so cynical and mean and funny in this oneSea Oak George SaundersWho can resist this opening line Min and Jade are feeding their babies while watching How My Child Died Violently Amidst the post everything mulch in The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories this one stood out like a tarantula on a slice of angel cake Lost in the Funhouse John Barth s collection of fourteen metafictional short stories could take the cupcake for the most extreme form of self reflexive postmodern literature ever written Frame Tale is ten words long on a Mobius strip Night Sea Journey a ten pager an occasionally light *Occasionally Dark Brooding On Life And Death *dark brooding on life and death the tradition of Blaise Pascal s Pens es and the longest piece in the collection Lost in the Funhouse about a BUG DEATH young boy on the threshold of his teenageears a story that awakened my own buried complex emotions when I was of similar age a story utilizing metafictional techniues in the telling of a traditional coming of age tale However to give a reader a decided taste of John Barth s scrumptious vanilla with honey cream cheese frosting cupcake collection I will focus on one of my favorite of these delectable specimens the title of which is and let us not be shocked since we are talking metafiction Title Here goes with my linking Title with a batch of major themes in the world of the postmodern Poiumena Big word but don t be put off it means a story about the very process of creating a story even the very story we are reading as in the first short paragraph of Title Beginning in the middle past the middle nearer three uarters done waiting for the end Consider how dreadful so far passionless abstraction pro dis And it will get worse Can we possibly continue Actually it does continue for another nine pages and fortunately this metafictional story gets better not worse Better that is if Forests Hope (Timber Valley Wolf Pack you are into metafictionIrony and Playfulness The first person narrator we can call him John John I have no shame as I just used this silly name. Tal fiction Though many of the stories gathered here were published separately there are Lost in the Funhouse started off on a positive note and acuired my attention due its various meta fictional tricks for which I m a pretty soft target but it was soon succumbed to those tricks only which got a little out of hand for my personal taste This is not a perfect series by any means and never meant to especially with all those literary gymnastics most of which ended in a nasty fall I m fairly receptive to all these experimental and post modern writings but in most of the cases I try not to ignore the content and there lies my main problem with this bookJohn Barth mentioned in the author s note that this book shouldn t be viewed as a short story collection but as a series and therefore reuired to be received all at once which I failed to do so except for few of the stories which are also my favorites The title story of course is the biggest strength of this book which is deftly handled with judicious mix of content meta techniues metaphorical significance and at the same time is engaging enough to hold the interest of a reader This is one piece which can be a good introduction for any Barth neophyte This story also inspired Wallaces s novella Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way from Girl with Curious hair Apart from this Night sea journey Petition Autobiography A self recorded fiction Title are few others which I enjoyed and the use of language in most of them is very impressive By this time one gets comfortable with the fact that hesheit is reading someone who is smart witty highly innovative and most importantly very original After that begun the downfall of this book for me not due to the lack of interesting elements but uninteresting subject matter with which I could in no way had have connected Read Greek Myths But at the same time I wonder if their knowledge would have brought any respite to my reading experience as for example I m well aware about Narcissus myth but didn t understand a single word of Echo where Barth has related the content of this myth especially wrt self reflection factor The analysis of this particular story is much interesting in my humble opinion With Life Story and Menelaiad came this huge tsunami of almost everything meta one can think of It s fascinating for sure but only in parts I was mostly eager to jump to interesting fragments such as this The reader You dogged uninsultable print oriented bastard it sou I m addressing who else from inside this monstrous fiction You ve read me this far then Even this far For what discreditable motive How is it Keeping and Breeding Australian Pythons you don t go to a movie watch TV stare at a wall play tennis with a friend make amorous advances to the person who comes toour mind when I speak of amorous advances Can nothing surfeit saturate Hester Roon you turnou off Where s A Wayside Tavern your shame A Smart Alec he isBut some were too much to digest For example this Well He asked Prince Paris You didn t By Zeus By Zeus You didn t Didou really By Zeus Yes There is a brutal dissection of Punctuation marks going on in aforementioned text I admire grammar but not that muchSo overall a modest beginning for me in the Barth s wonderland and I m hopeful that his other works shall prove to be much balanced and winsomely innovative In fact some sources have claimed that the same self reflection factor in his story Echo is used in a creative way in The Sot weed factor and Giles Goat boy which I shall definitely look forward to read This book 3 Stars I merely Liked it Lost In The Funhouse Fiction For Print Tape Live Voice is John Barth s response to a gauntlet Marshall McLuhan was throwing down back in the heady days of the sixties regarding the immanent demise of the work of art as printed text and the subseuent decline in the fortunes of the Gutenberg family Sound familiar As it is his first collection of short fiction anomalous no matter one s response to the Funhouse please do pick up one of his long works the form in which his muse sings much so sweetlyHow seriously ought we regard the book s subtitle for Print Tape Live Voice But according to the Author s Note these pieces are intended for a variety of performance modalities take the print medium for granted but lose or gain nothing in oral recitation would lose part of their point n any except printed form meant for either print or recorded authorial voice but not for live or non authorial voice will make no sense unless heard in live or recorded voices male and female or read as if so heard intended for monophonic authorial recording either disc or tape for monophonic tape and visible but silent author may be said to have been composed for printed voice print "Monophonic Recorded Authorial Voice "recorded authorial voice ditto in dialogue with itself live authorial voice live ditto in dialogue with monophonic ditto aforementioned and live ditto interlocutory with stereophonic et cetera my own preference You decide But then should For Fear of Little Men you Welles of course we are here have a good time after all Altogether now chorally On with Story Indeed Frame Tale How to write fiction with scissors in many fewer hours than that other guy with his whole cut up thing that no one wants to readAmbrose His Mark Water Message Lost in the Funhouse The Ambrose stories Please take a gander at these stories when Twig the Fairy and the Goblin Masquerade (Twig the Fairy you get around to placing LETTERS onour calendar Character Ambrose will be recycled there Lost in the Funhouse JB For whom is the funhouse fun DFW For whom is the funhouse a houseWith this dialogue we see history shift from the postmodern to the post postmodern or at least an attempt at the post post Famously DFW wrote his Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way in the margins of this here very story That s reason enough to read it And who takes DFW seriously when he says those unnice things about our Barth man You say mean things about Sanity is the Future of Wealth your father all the time tooMenelaiad Perhaps the crowning achievement of this collection of literary stunts and dares Having sent his unneeded but foisted student assistants into the stacks to discover frame tales and stories about stories and stories with stories inside them and such likeou remember 1001 Nights etc his results indicated that no story within story had been written which bored down than four or five stories deep ie a story within a story within a story within a story Ah said Herr Barth I can indeed do much better I can go as deep as seven stories within stories within etcetera And he did The result looks something like this Love Or better Speak Menelaus cried to Helen on the bridal bed I reminded Helen in her Trojan bedroom I confessed to Eidothea on the beach I declared to Proteus in the cave mouth I vouchsafed to Helen on the ship I told Peisistratus at least in my Spartan hall I say to whoever and where I am And Helen answered vide supraWill that drive Jelena '93 you mad How about sitting in the audience at Boston College on the eve of a wintery storm whilst Herr Meister Barth reads the entire damn thing inclusive of visual aids by way of cue The reader You dogged uninsultable print oriented bastard it sou I m addressing who else from inside this monstrous fiction You ve read me this far then Even this far For what discernible motive How is it ou don t go to a movie watch TV stare at a wall play tennis with a friend make amorous advances to the person who comes to our mind when I speak of amorous advances Can nothing surfeit saturate How to Restore Your Bmw Motorcycle Twins 1950-1969 you turnou off Where s our shame Where indeedUp through titular story p94 everything was working for me In fact it had all the necessary elements of a tour de force a purloined apiary ontological gamete theory article adjective noun a metaphor that looked like a simile At one point my wife interrupted me to ask what I was reading so I told her You read
weird shit she I m sticking with Wine SpectatorNight Sea Journey and Lost in the Funhouse are the first half highlights After that Barth heads up his ass so far the going gets rough to the point of unreadable I had to grit my teeth take breaks verb phrase preserving the series Life story and Title are both guilty of blank So extremely Droste recursive and painfully self consciously meta fictional there s almost no room for any No mistake here I checked the galley proofs this is what the author intendedThen B comes out of it and into something entirely different in the penultimate and tailpiece Menelai. Barth's lively highly original collection of short pieces is a major landmark of experimen.some weird shit