The School

The School

Donald Barthelme Steven Polansky / Jul 20, 2019

The School When I knew him Barthelme was in his early forties He died in at the age of The School which appeared first in the collection Amateurs is one of Barthelme s accessible stories To des

  • Title: The School
  • Author: Donald Barthelme Steven Polansky
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 102
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • When I knew him, Barthelme was in his early forties He died in 1989, at the age of 58 The School, which appeared first in the 1976 collection, Amateurs, is one of Barthelme s accessible stories To describe it is to sound ridiculous a very funny story about death and the negation of meaning, and the only story ever written, by anyone, in which a resurrected gerbiWhen I knew him, Barthelme was in his early forties He died in 1989, at the age of 58 The School, which appeared first in the 1976 collection, Amateurs, is one of Barthelme s accessible stories To describe it is to sound ridiculous a very funny story about death and the negation of meaning, and the only story ever written, by anyone, in which a resurrected gerbil is the bringer of hope Steven Polansky, Author of Dating Miss Universe Nine Stories About the Author Donald Barthelme published seventeen books, including four novels and a prize winning children s book He was a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, winner of the National Book Award, a director of PEN and the Authors Guild, and a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters He died in July of 1989 About the Guest Editor Steven Polansky was born in New York City He was educated at Wesleyan, Hollins, and Princeton He has taught at St Olaf College, Macalester, and the University of Minnesota His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper s, Glimmer Train, Best American Short Stories, New England Review, and Minnesota Monthly He has published two books The Bradbury Report, a novel, and a book of short stories, Dating Miss Universe, which won the Sandstone Prize and the Minnesota Book Award He has a wife, two sons, and a daughter He lives in Wisconsin About the Publisher Electric Literature is an independent publisher amplifying the power of storytelling through digital innovation Electric Literature s weekly fiction magazine, Recommended Reading, invites established authors, indie presses, and literary magazines to recommended great fiction Once a month we feature our own recommendation of original, previously unpublished fiction.

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    About "Donald Barthelme Steven Polansky"

      • Donald Barthelme Steven Polansky

        Donald Barthelme was born to two students at the University of Pennsylvania The family moved to Texas two years later, where Barthelme s father would become a professor of architecture at the University of Houston, where Barthelme would later major in journalism In 1951, still a student, he wrote his first articles for the Houston Post Barthelme was drafted into the Korean War in 1953, arriving in Korea on July 27, the very day the cease fire ending the war was signed He served briefly as the editor of an Army newspaper before returning to the U.S and his job at the Houston Post Once back, he continued his studies at the University of Houston, studying philosophy Although he continued to take classes until 1957, he never received a degree He spent much of his free time in Houston s black jazz clubs, listening to musical innovators such as Lionel Hampton and Peck Kelly, an experience which influenced his later writing.Barthelme s relationship with his father was a struggle between a rebellious son and a demanding father In later years they would have tremendous arguments about the kinds of literature in which Barthelme was interested and wrote While in many ways his father was avant garde in art and aesthetics, he did not approve of the post modern and deconstruction schools Barthelme s attitude toward his father is delineated in the novels The Dead Father and The King as he is pictured in the characters King Arthur and Lancelot Barthelme s independence also shows in his moving away from the family s Roman Catholicism his mother was especially devout , a separation that troubled Barthelme throughout his life as did the distance with his father He seemed much closer to his mother and agreeable to her strictures.Barthelme went on to teach for brief periods at Boston University, University at Buffalo, and the College of the City of New York, where he served as Distinguished Visiting Professor from 1974 75 He married four times His second wife, Helen Barthelme, later wrote a biography entitled Donald Barthelme The Genesis of a Cool Sound, published in 2001 With his third wife Birgit, a Dane, he had his first child, a daughter named Anne, and near the end of his life he married Marion, with whom he had his second daughter, Kate Marion and Donald remained wed until his 1989 death from throat cancer Donald Barthelme s brothers Frederick 1943 and Steven 1947 are also respected fiction writers and teachers at The University of Southern Mississippi.


    804 Comments

    1. The School by Donald Barthelme is one of the most loved of all pieces of postmodern short fiction. I certainly enjoyed reading and composing my write-up. Here goes:Bad News in the Land of Plenty: Edgar the elementary school teacher starts by informing us, “Well, we had all these children out planting trees, see, because we figured that . . . that was part of their education, to see how, you know, the root systems . . . and also the sense of responsibility taking care of things, being individua [...]


    2. This tiny little story has a lovely, optimistic theme, and the laid-back writing style really works in small doses, reading like a transcribed excerpt from a casual conversation. However, as pleasant as the rest was, the ending came far too abruptly and the children suddenly started speaking like computers or eighty-year-old philosophy professors. I don't much like surrealism.Then again, I'm not quite convinced that anybody really likes surrealism.Read it here.(And, if you were left baffled, as [...]



    3. When you review a three page story, saying anything about the plot would spoil it. "The School" centers on the deaths and lives that take place within a single classroom, and Donald Barthelme uses magical realism and absurdity to make us think about the greater implications of his humorous and off-putting plot. Every word within this piece propels it forward toward its confusing yet fitting conclusion. Would recommend to those interested in thinking about why every word or phrase within a story [...]



    4. A peculiar little short that left me with a lot of questions yet a weird sense of contentment too Can be read HEREthree stars



    5. I don't think I particularly care for Barthelme. There were so many opportunities for this story to conclude in a spectacular way. Instead, it concluded with a confusing implication of doubt. I've never been very good with postmodernity


    6. Disturbing, interesting and funny. This is the first short story I've read by Barthelme and I think I will seek out more of his work. for a 3 page story this was simply delightful.


    7. And they said, is death that which gives meaning to life? And I said no, life is that which gives meaning to life.



    8. إلي أين يذهب الموتي؟هل تستمد الحياة هدفها و معناها من الموت ؟أليست حقيقة الموت هي التي تلفت أنظارنا للحياة التي نعتادها و نعتبرها حق مكتسب و امر مفروغ منه ؟ كانت تلك هي الأسئلة التي وجهها التلاميذ الصغار لأستاذهم -و بذلك تحققت السيريالية في القصة- فما تعرضوا له من مقابلات دائ [...]


    9. I just what did I just read.It started out really interesting an I, too was curious what was going on, was there a reason? Or was it just explaining how life works in an extravagant way?Then it suddenly, and I really really mean suddenly. Went a whole other way and I was just so confused.In the end I didnt get the answer to my question and instead got a weird ass ending.What also bothered me is how the kids suddenly became almost like philosophers.(view spoiler)[ I did read a review of someone w [...]



    10. Deliciously dark short short story that takes a philosophical turn. Barthelme has mastered his use of language, conveying the story in a brilliant read-between-the-lines-way.



    11. This was a story I got to read in a Literature class I'm taking. Needless to say, I found it strange. Questions:How old were these children supposed to be? Given that the majority of the story makes it sound like they're young (planting trees and an herb garden, the class fish). Yet, when it nears the end of the story they suddenly sound much older even contemplating the difference between life and death. What was with them asking the teacher to have sex or "make love" with the teaching assistan [...]


    12. A very short story where children ask challenging questions for which a teacher cannot answer. It flips on its head the concept of who is teaching and who is being taught, and can any of us really be masters of the material of life? This one pushed me a bit and had me thoughtful about my own stories of what I have mastered or haven't. I like that, and recommend it for that reason.



    13. Although kind of sad and depressing n parts, brought back school memories of myself as a child growing plant seeds that never really worked.


    14. This very short story with dark humour reads like a transcribe of someone's recorded monologue. The first-person narrative is quite breathless. Read it as part of my MA in English.


    15. This is one of the short stories I had in this year's syllabus, it wasn't bad, it had this irony of its own, all the wondering about death and its inevitability, but gives a most important idea, that despite the death and the fact that no one can get away of it, life always continues.


    16. 3.5 Stars out of 5 StarsDonald Barthelme tells the story of a teacher and his students - and the death surrounding them. The school plants and gardens die, the classroom pets die, family members die, and even that adopted Korean orphan (that the kids contributed a quarter each a month to) died. What stands out is that Barthelme touches upon a dark and saddening topic in a playful - and sometimes, almost funny - way. While I did enjoy this story, and really liked it from the start, the ending str [...]


    17. I found out about this story from a Flavorwire article (flavorwire/272890/10-wonde), and decided to give it a go, since it was the article author's professed favorite.The conversational tone is strong, and I liked that part about this story. It is fairly short. As I read, the constant theme of "all of our class projects and pets keep dying" became more and more suspicious. Then, when the children stopped talking like children, I started wondering if this was some kind of school for aliens, or so [...]


    18. Absurd is the only word I could think of to describe this story, though I've learned 'surreal' is the proper one as Barthelme, is known as a surrealist. The plot of this story is basically 'a series of unfortunate events,' or rather deaths, narrated by a school teacher. The theme of course is death and life: plants die, animals die, people die, life goes on. The school itself becomes a symbol of this process.I foundthis little article by Michael Byers helpful in understanding the story more clea [...]


    19. Audio through the New Yorker. This story and Game. Subversive. Depressingly amusing. I remember in the course of high school (a class of about 120) we had three fathers die in a single year (two of them murdered). Our community has had 4 - 5 kids' deaths since we've been here (about 14 years). A student's father committed suicide two years ago. Another one died of a diabetic attack this past year. A local girl one year older than my daughter is currently fighting brain cancer. So. This story exp [...]


    20. Well, that escalated quickly. It's nothing to be worried about of course, school pets die sometimes it simply happens. And plants can be very finicky. And well, the string of bad luck with grandparents, fathers, and mothers can't really be counted, just a string of bad luck. Definitely nothing to worry about.


    21. Such a strange story. My copy ended at the part about the children and the benches and I thought that was a great ending, then I realised there was another page and it descended into even more strangeness. I suppose the point of the story is that love creates life? Yet, I preferred my snipped ending that death just happens.


    22. what was the point of what i just read i liked the narrative, he got me thinking why was that happening to the class but then they talked about death and not to continue they were about to make love infront of the kids. i despise that.


    23. "And they said, is death that which gives meaning to life? And I said no, life is that which gives meaning to life. Then they said, but isn’t death, considered as a fundamental datum, the means by -I said, yes, maybe."


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