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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Come Back, Dr. Caligari (1964) by Donald Barthelme

The short story The Joker's Greatest Triumph is based on Batman 148, published in 1962
Book Review
Come Back, Dr. Caligari (1964)
 by Donald Barthelme

  Many of the techniques of literary post-modernism were developed by Donald Barthelme.  Come Back, Dr. Caligari was the first of his short story collections, but basically, any short fiction that you are likely to read in the New Yorker or Harpers or wherever one encounters short fiction today (McSweeneys?) the author is likely to owe a creative debt to Barthelme and this collection.

   Bathelme oscillates between the sublime and the incomprehensible. I will say that the more incomprehensible stuff appears to pay a direct tribute to the James Joyce of Finnegan's Wake and the later work of Samuel Beckett.   The sublime in this volume is represented by the most well known of these tales, The Joker's Greatest Triumph, which features Batman and his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, along with an old chum who happens to be over for drinks on a Tuesday night when the bat-signal goes off.

  The Joker's Greatest Triumph is Donald Barthelme in a nut-shell, fusing an appreciation of pop culture with the techniques of literary modernism. The more esoteric, experimental pieces are tolerable because not a single story in this collection exceeds twenty amply margined pages. 

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