Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Hiding Man

Hiding Man

A Biography of Donald Barthelme

Tracy Daugherty

St. Martin's Press




In the 1960s Donald Barthelme came to prominence as the leader of the Postmodern movement. He was a fixture at the New Yorker, publishing more than 100 short stories, including such masterpieces as "Me and Miss Mandible," the tale of a thirty-five-year-old sent to elementary school by clerical error, and "A Shower of Gold," in which a sculptor agrees to appear on the existentialist game show Who Am I? He had a dynamic relationship with his father that influenced much of his fiction. He worked as an editor, a designer, a curator, a news reporter, and a teacher. He was at the forefront of literary Greenwich Village which saw him develop lasting friendships with Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Wolfe, Grace Paley, and Norman Mailer. Married four times, he had a volatile private life. He died of cancer in 1989. The recipient of many prestigious literary awards, he is best remembered for the classic novels Snow White, The Dead Father, and many short stories, all of which remain in print today. Hiding Man is the first biography of Donald Barthelme, and it is nothing short of a masterpiece.


Chapter One


The America that Don knew as a boy and as a teenager, in the 1930s and 1940s, was a nation whose structures were beginning to be formed with messianic fervor. Or so his father believed....


Praise for Hiding Man

“An excellent biography... Daugherty is right that the world seems ready for another look at what Barthelme accomplished for American fiction.” —Louis Menand, The New Yorker

“A fond biography… Daugherty’s enthusiasm is catching.” —Wall Street Journal

“[Daugherty's] book is a page-turner. One reads eagerly, chapter to chapter, marriage to marriage, waiting to see what happens next. That Daughtery has ferreted out this element and put it to use is an amazing and rare accomplishment.” —Lorrie Moore, New York Review of Books

“Anchors a fascinating chapter in American letters by reclaiming and redefining a risk-taking writer whose edgy legacy is found in today's most imaginative fiction.” —Booklist, starred review

“Like Barthelme's best stories, this unapologetically literary and ambitious book is cultural and artistic bricolage at its finest.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“An intimate considered account, filled with vivid characters, convincing insights into the writer’s process and the flavor of its subject’s difficult personal life.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“In the 1970s, he was considered the future of literature, and he still has fanatical supporters, my family being Exhibit A. But mostly he's regarded as a dead, twisted branch on the evolutionary tree of American letters. Tracy Daugherty's Hiding Man should help correct that.” —Time Magazine

“You don't read this wonderful biography and think Don was just one more exceptional guy. In fact, it's obvious he was a maverick all along -- a very erudite, well-informed one -- who graciously took along companions, for the ride. Tracy Daugherty writes about 'the alchemy of turning experience into a stylized essence.' It was about alchemy, and Barthelme was a wizard. His writing needs to be re-read and reconsidered--not because of the times, not because it's neglected, but because he is among the most original and moving writers who ever existed. This book is an amazing account of what a life in writing really is. In fact, it's what living a life really is. How often do you read a book and think you've found out about that?” —Ann Beattie

“Lucky Daugherty to get Barthelme, but also lucky Barthelme to get Daugherty, and lucky all of us to get this great loving book.” —Jonathan Lethem

“If you believe that Donald Barthelme was as important formally to the second half of the twentieth century of American fiction as Hemingway was to the first, this is an important book. He was, and it is. As its subject would have had it, Mr. Daugherty is deft rather than ponderous,allusive rather than probative, and surprising in his tenable explications of what Donald Barthelme wrote and in his private revelations of who Donald Barthelme was. Mr. Daugherty dutifully wrestles "ineffable" to the ground. Gay sadness abounds and he hasDonald Barthelme just right. ” —Padget Powell

“Donald Barthelme was a restless spirit, a cunning innovator, an incisive thinker, a funny and heartbreaking ironist, and a splendid prose stylist. He was also a wonderfully quirky and complicated person. Now the gifted fiction writer Tracy Daugherty has brought him out of the shadows and into the light in this rich, intimate, and thoroughly illuminating chronicle of the life and works of an American original. It is a major achievement.” —Ed Hirsch

“The inimitable Don B is fortunate in his biographer: HIDING MAN is a richly detailed, full-length portrait of the artist at all stages of his too-short life.” —John Barth

“This superbly written and impeccably researched book is a model of what literary biographies should be: compassionate, yet scrupulously honest, revealing and unidealizing, with a sophisticated understanding of the interplay between the life and the work. The material on Barthelme's early struggles to establish himself as a writer is particularly fresh and poignant. Tracy Daugherty has captured this elusive, difficult and deeply touching man on the page, as much as anyone possibly can.” —Phillip Lopate

“Sometimes when I’m writing I find myself wondering What Would Don Say? but there are few of us who can begin to approach the audaciousness and freshness of vision his writing first intruded into the staid halls of the publishing world. Tracy Daugherty’s investigation of this complex and private man is doubly fascinating for its portrait of the cultural moment into which Barthelme’s work exploded. No one has yet equaled Barthelme’s wit, his sexual and political candor, and his deep commitment to the possibilities of honest language. Daugherty lovingly but critically illuminates them all.” —Rosellen Brown

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Tracy Daugherty

Tracy Daugherty's work has appeared in the New Yorker, McSweeney's, The Georgia Review, and others. He has received fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. Once a student of Donald Barthelme's, he is now Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University.

Tracy Daugherty

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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