Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Word Garden Word List #16 (Donald Barthelme)


This week's word list is taken from the volume Forty Stories by post-modernist story writer Donald Barthelme. He was an odd duck, and so I naturally love him. When I was just a teenager and eager to get away from my relatives on a family trip to Denver, I went bowling and then to the book store, showing, I think, an admirable knack for prioritizing. 

In that book store, I found a paperback collection entitled Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts written by guess-who. The stories were all set in the present, with normal characters like husbands and wives, employees, and so on, but the situations they found themselves in, and/or their reactions to same were skewed, impossible, and often howlingly funny.  My eldest brother, whose taste runs to thrillers and Harry Potter, declared that I had wasted my money, further endearing Barthelme and his odd characters to me. (On a subsequent visit to Denver I bought my first Grateful Dead recording. That time, no one was there to pan my selection. Whee!)

The story I remember best from that first (for me) Barthelme collection was one about a man who felt he wasn't climbing the corporate ladder very expeditiously, and so to show his will and determination he became a Human Fly and began climbing a skyscraper using bathroom plungers to stick him to the glass sides of the building as friends and acquaintances shouted encouragement along the lines of "asshole!" Gosh knows why all that resonated for me.  As the years have gone by, I have continued to love both Barthelme and the Dead. A friend of the devil is a friend of mine, or something like that. 

What we do here is to use at least 3 of the 20 words provided in a new original poem--no haiku or haibun please--and then simply link, visit others, and enjoy. The prompt stays "live" through Friday.  

Spellcheck suggests I replace "haibun" with "halibut." Okay, no halibut either. 

And now, your word list:



hedgewitch said...

Thanks for fleshing out Barthelme a little for me and refreshing my memory about him. I do remember when this book came out--with a title like that, who wouldn't--but I have never read him. The Grateful Dead is another story, of course, and I love the association you have between the two. I will let these excellent words sink into my brain and see what happens. Thanks for hosting another fascinating, halibut-free challenge.

Fireblossom said...

So happy to see my BFF here once again! You know, nothing ruins a good poem faster than those tired old halibut references. :-p


I LOVE that you added “Natasha.”

Carrie Burtt said...

I am learning so much Shay! I will have to check out one of his books! I loved hearing about your experience with discovering him as well! Another fascinating writer and great list of words! I shall return.😎

Fireblossom said...

Hello stranger.

Fireblossom said...

He's something else. Glad you're enjoying the lists!


Hiya. I’m here and always reading. I just can’t write much in the way of worthwhile comments on my phone.

hedgewitch said...

I tried to avoid the halibut, but I think my offering is still a little fishy.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This post made my day - especially the no halibut. You crack me up. GREAT word list!

Jim said...

Shay, temptation was to great here. I'm on a Sabattical but I had to write one more. Donald Barthelme sounds wonderful for me, I'll check our library soon.

Fireblossom said...

Halibut are notoriously poor poets.

Fireblossom said...

Enjoy your sabbatical, Jim.

qbit said...

When I first saw that book on a shelf I snapped it up so fast! Was my intro to Po-Mo and I never looked back. I'm sure some part of feeling free to put out some of my more oddball (and I think best) lines came from that experience. To hell with worrying about if it makes any sense.

Fireblossom said...

Yes, he definitely showed me that turning one's imagination loose was a good thing!