1931 to 1989 USA
Donald Barthelme was a very prolific very highly regarded short story writer with 100s of published works. In addition to being a writer he was also a reporter, a curator of an art museum and worked as a visiting professor of creative writing at several universities. I am currently reading some of the short stories in a brand new anthology Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story and I was excited to see a story by Barthelem in the collection.
It is not terribly easy to see fully what is happening in this story. It seems to be about a wealthy man, perhaps in the movie business, travelling the world in the company of his Japanese girlfriend. As the story opens Amelia and Paul (I wonder why the Japanese girlfriend has been given a very English name-is it not her real name-is this story orientalizing her? Her nickname is "Yum-Yum") are looking at some travel pics of Denmark (this was in the day when people saved their pictures in physical albums). The point of this story, as most postmodern short fiction is in the twists, the language and the images. I loved it when they went to see one of my favorite Greta Garbo movies, Queen Christina. (question of the day-is Queen Christina camp?) We wonder why Paul wanted Yum-Yum to wear white rubber pajamas. Is the world a toy for Paul as is perhaps Yum-Yum.
This is a very interesting story. The language is magical and the images and scenes evoked are fascinating.
I hope to read more of the author's work one day.
The Reading Life