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Forty Stories
By: Donald Barthelme

A disgruntled princess, ax-wielding dryads, porcupine wranglers who dream of hitting it big on the Country Western charts, a catered hanging — this collection of straight-faced, angst-ridden whimsy, which I first read 20 years ago and have come back to several times, was my introduction to Donald Barthelme’s singular riffs on the ambiguities of life, work, relationships, the arts, and the American experience post-Vietnam. My favorite passage: “The citizens in their cars looked at the porcupines, thinking: What is wonderful? Are these porcupines wonderful? Are they significant? Are they what I need?”

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One Reply to “Paul Hoffman”

  1. If you’re that interested in quilled rodents, Paul, read ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog,’ by Muriel Barbery, which I returned to the library this morning! Actually, this novel has more to do with philosophy than with hedgehogs, but I still strongly recommend it.

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