The Genesis of a Cool Sound
Publication Year: 2001
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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On that morning in the fall of 1960, Donald Barthelme had just completed what would become his first published story in the new literary style he was developing. Within a few months it appeared in Contact. After that, other stories followed one after another. I had also been with Don the...
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I want to thank colleagues at Texas A&M University who encouraged me to undertake and complete this memoir and biography. I am especially grateful to Jerome M. Loving, William B. Clark, and Jimmie M. Killingsworth, all scholars in American literature who read my manuscript and made suggestions for revisions and for publication. I am also grateful to...
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...for the ﬁrst time in the fall of 1949. I was alone in the ofﬁces of the Department of Journalism and working on a writing assignment when he walked in and introduced himself. It was only after he spoke that I looked up and saw him standing over my desk. He explained that he needed to see a faculty advisor regarding his program. I told him to whom he should...
Never Suffer Fools
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...friendships that were to last throughout his life. Besides Joe Maranto, they included another journalism major, George Christian, and before long, Herman Gollob, who had been a fellow student at Lamar High School A&M and gone to Korea as an air force ofﬁcer. After his return, he enrolled in a graduate program in theater arts at the University of Houston;...
A Draftee Searching for a “Cool Sound”
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Don had worked for the Post for more than a year, when in September, 1952, he married Marilyn Marrs, a graduate of Rice University and a first cousin of George Christian. I had met Marilyn but knew little more than that she and Don were dating. After he joined the Post, I heard about Don occasionally from Mary...
Then Wear the Gold Hat
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In January of 1955, after taking a brief holiday following his return from Korea, Don went back to covering ﬁne arts for the Houston Post. There is little doubt that in Korea Don had had one of the most intense experiences of his life. Not only had he encountered cultures other than his own but also, for the ﬁrst time, he met and shared experiences with...
Discovery of Godot
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One afternoon in August of 1956, as Don browsed through journals and magazines at Guy’s Newsstand in Houston, he opened a new issue of Theatre Arts and began to read Waiting for Godot. As he read Samuel Beckett’s...
Life with a Literary Genius
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In the early summer of 1957, not long after we moved into the apartment on Richmond, I went back to work. I became an account executive for an advertising agency owned by two friends, Bill Bruce and Betty Jane Mitchell. Bill was a former news reporter and editor with the Houston Post, and Betty Jane was....
Forum Working in a Vacuum
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From the summer of 1956 through the summer of 1960, Don spent much of his professional life creating and producing the literary journal Forum for the University of Houston. From the moment he joined the university’s public relations staff, Don had campaigned for a magazine that he could edit and over which...
The Creation of a Strange Object
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...to write “The Darling Duckling at School.” Later retitled “Me and Miss Mandible,” this story was the ﬁrst to be published of the brilliantly original stories that appeared in Don’s ﬁrst collection, Come Back, Dr. Caligari. Within a few weeks, the tale of an adult who found himself in an elementary school classroom was accepted by Contact, a West Coast literary...
The Writing of Come Back, Dr. Caligari
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When Don began writing the Come Back, Dr. Caligari stories, he worked in even greater isolation than when he edited Forum. There was no other writer with whom he could talk about his work, at either the University of Houston or at the Houston Post. There was simply no one at all. George Christian...
Contemporary Arts Museum
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In early 1960, while still on the staff of the University of Houston and at the urging of his friend Pat Goeters, Don joined the board of the Contemporary Arts Association and began working closely with a group of architects and artists to expand the role of the young Contemporary Arts. Don knew most of the board members and was eager to join with them...
CAA and the New
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After we were back in Houston,Don rigorously followed his writing schedule every morning, turning his attention to the museum in the afternoon. For me, there was always work to be done at the agency, so everything was pretty much the same. Don was especially happy. The freedom that he now had at the CAA in introducing the “new” to Houston audiences was a challenge that he liked. And his work in...
The Promise of New York
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One day in the early spring of 1962, I was in the ofﬁce of Sister Mary Antoinette, O.P., president of Dominican College, to discuss strategy for establishing a comprehensive fundraising program. We both recognized the need for someone to plan and direct an overall development effort. She knew of Don’s and my own activities at the Contemporary Arts...
New York at Last
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...hotel on the West Side, he called to give me his telephone number and address. After that, he telephoned every other day. I was miserable over our separation and I could hear Don’s loneliness as well, but for a while at...
Loss and Possibility
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...now drinking excessively. In Manhattan, there were endless reasons for drinking, among them the jazz clubs, where he could indulge his passion for music, especially modern jazz. Don spent as many evenings as possible in one of the Village-area clubs where the most talented artists performed. He occasionally worked with an author on a manuscript in the evening,...
A New Life Begins for Don
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In January of 1964, two Houston newspaper columnists received ad-vance copies of Come Back, Dr. Caligari; both knew Don but neither had George Fuermann, columnist for the Houston Post, recalled Don as a former staff member of the Post and was shocked that he knew so little of Don. Fuermann reviewed the stories on January 26; like many reviewers...
Casting Chrysanthemums on His Grave
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...graduate student at the University of Texas in Austin, the ﬁrst step toward earning a Ph.D. in American literature. Each Saturday morning, I drove1 65 miles from my apartment in Houston to the campus for a nine o’clock class. In taking one course, I could determine just how much I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. program at Texas and, after that, could enroll for addi-...
Don Enters My Life Again
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After our telephone conversation in New York in 1966, I neither saw nor talked to Don for several years. His brothers and friends mentioned him often, but it was not until the spring of 1972 that we saw each other once again. I was now spending most of my time at the agency and was working at my desk when he suddenly...
The Final Years and The King
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In September, 1981, Don returned to Houston for his ﬁrst semester of a distinguished professorship in creative writing at the University of Houston. I had talked to him but had not seen him for about two years; before he left New York, we made plans to meet for lunch once he arrived. Don was staying at Pete Barthelme’s home while he was in Houston....
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Page Count: 246
Illustrations: 25 b&w photos.
Publication Year: 2001
Series Title: Tarleton State University Southwestern Studies in the Humanities