Postmodern lists of unrelated items and categories abound in a typical Barthelme story

Postmodern lists of unrelated items and categories abound in a typical Barthelme story

Then, of course, there was “The Balloon,” one of Barthelme’s most reprinted and celebrated stories, which assembles roughly five pages of public commentary on the appearance of a non-specifically described balloon that appears above Manhattan’s 14th Street (“the exact location of which I cannot reveal”) and “expanded northward.” And while the balloon elicits much “public warmth” from “ordinary citizens,” the critical reaction bristles with complications:

The meaninglessness of personal life extends everywhere-into ilies, careers, cities, politics, and even the sky-across which Barthelme’s balloon-image of everythingness soars free from everything except human interpretation.

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