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John Barth and bad reviewing

Monday December 26th 2005, 4:23 pm

The John Barth and bad reviewing

A) Barth can’t “get on” with his stories without the “postmodern soft-shoe routine” because performing such a routine is precisely his way of telling stories. Asking him to lose his “verbal pyrotechnics” and his “sef-consciousness” (”talking about the telling itself,” as Gilsdorf clumsily puts it) is asking him to lose his authorial personality, his reason for telling stories in the first place. If you don’t like Barth’s approach to the writing of fiction–by which everyone has to agree that stories are all made up in the first place and that reflecting on how stories affect us is a satisfactory substitute for the “suspension of disbelief”–the appropriate response would be to read someone else, someone who won’t “frustrate our expectations of conventional narrative,” not to ask Barth to become a different kind of writer.

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