UNSPEAKABLE PRACTICES, UNNATURAL ACTS by Donald Barthelme

UNSPEAKABLE PRACTICES, UNNATURAL ACTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fragments are the only forms I trust"" is one fat clue the reader might net as to the run of the current in these strange, witty, surreal short ""stories."" At first bewildered glance, each piece seems a montage of floating, congruent, non-congruent, time-dandling events, words, things; a montage of meaningless (for the moment) souvenirs. A mammoth balloon is inflated over the city with much talk by the natives after the artifact; Indians storm the city in spite of the excellent hand-sanded table (birch veneer on black wrought iron legs); two emphatic creatures named Edward and Pia exist in instant replays and talk in stereo static: a tiny President (forty-eight inches tall at the shoulder) may or may not cause intermittent and mass unconsciousness; and Kellerman, ""gigantic with gin, runs through the park at noon with his naked father slung under one arm."" Meaning may emerge, blur forth, but in this glittering clatterbang of existence no overview is possible (""The moon hates us""). With elegance and wicked glee, the author has produced hitherto buried delights in the ""Isle of Vernacular."" Each fragment has its visual and verbal surprise. Baffling, brilliant, and very special, this is Bertic Wooster's ""Guernica."" Most of these stories have appeared in The New Yorker.

Pub Date: May 8th, 1968
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux