Lost in the Funhouse

Lost in the Funhouse Barth s lively highly original collection of short pieces is a major landmark of experimental fiction Though many of the stories gathered here were published separately there are several themes comm

Barth s lively, highly original collection of short pieces is a major landmark of experimental fiction Though many of the stories gathered here were published separately, there are several themes common to them all, giving them new meaning in the context of this collection.

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Lost in the Funhouse

  1. John Simmons Barth is an American novelist and short story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.John Barth was born in Cambridge, Maryland, and briefly studied Elementary Theory and Advanced Orchestration at Juilliard before attending Johns Hopkins University, receiving a B.A in 1951 and an M.A in 1952 for which he wrote a thesis novel, The Shirt of Nessus.He was a professor at Penn State University 1953 1965 , SUNY Buffalo 1965 1973 , Boston University visiting professor, 1972 1973 , and Johns Hopkins University 1973 1995 before he retired in 1995.Barth began his career with The Floating Opera and The End of the Road, two short novels that deal wittily with controversial topics, suicide and abortion respectively They are straightforward tales as Barth later remarked, they didn t know they were novels The Sot Weed Factor, Barth s next novel, is an 800 page mock epic of the colonization of Maryland based on the life of an actual poet, Ebenezer Cooke, who wrote a poem of the same title The Sot Weed Factor is what Northrop Frye called an anatomy a large, loosely structured work, with digressions, distractions, stories within stories, and lists such as a lengthy exchange of insulting terms by two prostitutes The fictional Ebenezer Cooke repeatedly described as poet and virgin is a Candide like innocent who sets out to write a heroic epic, becomes disillusioned and ends up writing a biting satire.Barth s next novel, Giles Goat Boy, of comparable size, is a speculative fiction based on the conceit of the university as universe A half man, half goat discovers his humanity and becomes a savior in a story presented as a computer tape given to Barth, who denies that it is his work In the course of the novel Giles carries out all the tasks prescribed by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces Barth kept a list of the tasks taped to his wall while he was writing the book.The short story collection Lost in the Funhouse and the novella collection Chimera are even metafictional than their two predecessors, foregrounding the writing process and presenting achievements such as seven nested quotations In LETTERS Barth and the characters of his first six books interact.While writing these books, Barth was also pondering and discussing the theoretical problems of fiction writing, most notably in an essay, The Literature of Exhaustion first printed in the Atlantic, 1967 , that was widely considered to be a statement of the death of the novel compare with Roland Barthes s The Death of the Author Barth has since insisted that he was merely making clear that a particular stage in history was passing, and pointing to possible directions from there He later 1979 wrote a follow up essay, The Literature of Replenishment, to clarify the point.Barth s fiction continues to maintain a precarious balance between postmodern self consciousness and wordplay on the one hand, and the sympathetic characterisation and page turning plotting commonly associated with traditional genres and subgenres of classic and contemporary storytelling.

121 Reply to “Lost in the Funhouse”

  1. 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 in the tradition of Blaise Pascal s Pens es, and the longest piece in the collection, Lost in the Funhouse, about a young boy on the threshold of his teenage years, [...]

  2. 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 [...]

  3. Lost in the Funhouse started off on a positive note and acquired 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 tr [...]

  4. Indeed, if I have yet 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 b Once upon a time there was a review that began a hide spoiler Barth wrote a novel for himself He wrote a novel to himself He doesn t care about you He is not writing for you He is not going to make you eat your short fiction or e [...]

  5. Disappointing This soi disant landmark in experimental fiction was stuffed with endless exercises in indulgence, vague and rambling stories, pretentious non sequiturs 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 pl [...]

  6. 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 Wall.Tourist Where s Hadrian s wall Local inhabitant of the area It s right there.Touris [...]

  7. 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 subsequent 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 s [...]

  8. 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 materials Interstitialiad Go on Say it Now Featuring Italicised Barth For whom is the funhouse fun Perhaps for lovers For ME For YOU Perhaps for US Literarily a CO [...]

  9. Indeed, if I have yet 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.

  10. it s like being trapped in a room with robin williams on coke and he just keeps telling the same joke OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER

  11. The reader You, dogged, uninsultable, print oriented bastard, it s you 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 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 to your mind when I speak of amorous advances Can nothing surfeit, saturate you, turn you off Where s your shame Where indeed Up through titular story p94 everyth [...]

  12. Lost in the Funhouse is a tough book to review, because it screams for some sort of clever, self aware, self reflexive metafictional review The trick there is that reviews are sort of self aware and self reflexive by their nature, which is why e.g it s completely unsurprising to see the author poke their head in and say hey guys this is Sentimental Surrealist not my real name and here s what I think of Lost in the Funhouse or whatever it is I happen to be reviewing, which as of right now is Lost [...]

  13. Video review youtube watch v 2_76FFeatured in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2016 youtube watch v 4X6OQTo whom is the funhouse fun To the Bookchemist.But seriously, don t read this book if you don t know what you re getting into it would only annoy you Otherwise, roll up roll up.

  14. As critics decried the Death of the Novel, Death of the Story, Death of the Author, Death of et cetera, Barth took it upon himself to revel in the debris, causing further destruction in the process Despite being billed as a connected series, this collection covers a lot of relatively unconnected ground, veering between personal narrative, self reflexive formal pyrotechnics, and re constructed mythology It s all very clever, but the content, for me, sometimes fails to keep pace with the clevernes [...]

  15. Reading this collection made me mad at my undergraduate profs from SF State U from the early 80s who never bothered to teach me that Postmodern Literature Well, the postmodern novel not only existed in America but was born in America Why did we feel compelled to ignore Joseph Heller and John Barth not to mention Gaddis, Gass, Pynchon, and even Don DeLillo until White Noise and rather buy it back from Italo Calvino and Milan Kundera in overpriced trade paperbacks fostered upon us by Reaganite Ame [...]

  16. A few stories in, and I was ready to put this on a shelf with Calvino, Nabokov, and the other luminaries of post modern meta fiction Unfortunately, like so many front loaded albums from bands that you only kind of like, the second half was supremely tiresome Overall disappointment.But the highs oh, the highs There s definitely a few stories in here that are must reads for fans of the genre Night sea Journey is a spectacular tale of a confused spermatozoa cell, whose brief existence forms densely [...]

  17. I read this over a span of several weeks, really When I saw that the title page had Fiction for print, live tape, and voice, I was intrigued and had to go find out what that meant There are instructions by the author of which stories should be read out loud and which ones should have come recorded onto tape, of course none of them are So the first thing I did was read the out loud ones out loud, which was a blast.Then I got into the character of Ambrose, who appears in a few stories I love how B [...]

  18. Barth is such a lyrical writer, especially compared to most of the brooding postmodernist set Just look at the opening story, Night Sea Journey Gorgeous in its imagery, rich with philosophical inquiry, it s worthy of Calvino.And Barth doesn t limit himself, he gracefully steps from style to style, going from that to weird biographies to formal experiments to lyrical, haunting childhood tales Above all, the whole thing is a big, long mash note in love with the writing process.I get the feeling pe [...]

  19. Dear Mr Barth,As I yet again write you a letter in a review of a book about writing about writing about writing sigh , I must apologise for not being clever enough to know what the hell you re on about in pretty much all of this Should I take the time to deconstruct your stories, I suspect your only message is that life sucks and we will all die one day, in which case I must thank you for this highly original and important message that is worth taking the time to considerT Sigh

  20. First, an admission I didn t read the final two stories I don t know my greek mythology, and so the constant references went over my head However, the rest of the intensely metafictional, massively self referential, labyrinthine, Borges on drugs stories here were enjoyable if somewhat bewildering, and ended up giving me a lot of inspiration for some of my own writing Barth is sometimes too clever for his own good, but he s always an optimistic, fascinating writer, and I enjoyed those stories I u [...]

  21. I picked up this collection of short stories, because it was referenced in a David Foster Wallace novella Westward the Course of Empire Takes it s Way that I massively enjoyed The influence of Barth on DFW is readily apparent and Lost in the Funhouse is a carnival ride of a book Full of self reflexion, mobius strips, and retold Greek myths The stories are fairly readable if you re not concerned with things like plot and or plot resolution a trick DFW handily usurped But the ideas behind the stor [...]

  22. A set of stories, some clever, some so damn clever that they are almost grating I keep thinking that these language games are becoming dated, though.

  23. Lost in the Funhouse was my true gateway drug into the vein of postmodernism Since reading this and many other of Barth s fiction, I ve fallen completely for metafictive postmodernities and their like.This book is sort of loosely linked stories Several characters, such as Ambrose of Lost in the Funhouse reappear throughout the collection, but largely, this is an experiment in both fictional structure as well as interpretive form Several stories were written with intention to be consumed in non t [...]

  24. Lost in the Funhouse, in all its postmodern meta glory, was still a tiresome exercise in stroking the male ego John Barth is inventive in his twists of character and format, and each story s weirdness was enjoyable, to a certain point.As self conscious as Barth claims to be or has since been described as , his loosely connected not at all connected take your pick collection of short stories still drives readers to obsess over the motives and intentions of either Barth himself, his white, male pr [...]

  25. Bookended almost with two rather exceptional stories, Ambrose His Mark and Anonymiad , with an absolute knockout in the middle, John Barth s Lost in the Funhouse astonishes and disappoints in almost equal measure When he s on, as in the aforementioned stories, he s almost unbeatable, and when he s not on almost every other story in the collection , he s almost unbearable.The postmodern bent to most of the stories contained here largely works against the author, though when employed well, is both [...]

  26. I believe that John Barth s experimental novel was a failure from beginning to end There were a few gems Ambrose His Mark and Petition were both quite remarkable and it was these exceptions that made the book almost readable Unfortunately for this reader, all too many of the stories served to obstruct me from my final goal, completion of the book and moving along to my next book forget reading for enjoyment Many stories seemed like barriers instead of conduits of ideas The story arc was disjoin [...]

  27. An author recommended book that turned out to be a real disappointment Barth rambles on in short story form about how hard a time he s having writing anything intelligible hence, Lost In the Funhouse There are two intriguing short stories in the midst of this mess, but otherwise it s just egotistical and arrogant stream of consciousness whining circa the mid 1960 s At multiple times throughout the second half of the book, he asks the reader why they re still reading, then places himself in Greek [...]

  28. As of about half way thru the book I just said Fuck it and gave up Though I got what he was trying to do in many of the stories, which is call attention to the actual process of writing in addition to the writing of a story, I found myself unable to care at all I simply lacked the ability to find any enjoyment in the process of reading this book So I gave up I rated it three stars as I can see the writer has a level of talent, but it failed to interest me.

  29. Rascally John Barth it would be just like him to put an endless story right at the beginning of his book of short stories How am I to ever get to the second story when the first has no beginning or end Secondarily how am I supposed to read this book when I don t like your stories To be fair, I usually have trouble with short stories.

  30. This collection of short stories exists as maybe the most important, accurate, and concise representation of the ideas of postmodernism and meta fiction Best stories include Night Sea Journey , Lost in the Funhouse , Title , Life Story , and Anonymiad , but bits of genius can found in them all 200 of the smartest pages you may ever get to read.

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