In January, the balloon, beginning at a point on 14th St. There I stopped it. It expanded upward, over the parts of the city it was already covering, throughout the morning. The apparent purposelessness of the balloon was vexing. Reactions to the balloon are described. Little or nothing could be done in the way of removing or destroying the balloon.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. The Balloon. Other editions. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — The Balloon by Donald Barthelme. The Balloon by Donald Barthelme. Short Story. Get A Copy.
More Details Edition Language. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Balloon , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Balloon. Jun 03, Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing. A memorable postmodern, metafictional snapper straight from the outrageous imagination of Donald Barthelme.
I love the delicacy and lyricism of The Balloon , a story with such a special beauty it deserves a review on its own. Thus, my write-up here although I included The Balloon as part of a collection of stories I reviewed previously. Postmodern, lyrical and light, as light as a very large feather our tale begins with a narrator telling us he engineered a balloon expanding twenty city blocks nor A memorable postmodern, metafictional snapper straight from the outrageous imagination of Donald Barthelme.
Postmodern, lyrical and light, as light as a very large feather our tale begins with a narrator telling us he engineered a balloon expanding twenty city blocks north to south over buildings, from Fourteenth Street all the way up to Central Park.
In an interview, Donald Barthelme recounts when he first began writing, he wrote Hemingway-like stories but could see his efforts were awful and how his writer's voice needed to develop in a radically different direction.
This giant balloon is mostly muted grays and browns contrasted with walnut and soft yellows giving the surface a rough, forgotten quality and anchored by sliding weights on the inside. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what is the purpose? Thus, initially, the apparent purposelessness of the balloon proved vexing for all the hardheaded city officers and municipal officials. Sure, kids can run, jump, slide and bounce on the thing but why the hell is it there in the first place?
But since the balloon could be neither removed nor destroyed one night, in secret, city officials tried but failed and a public warmth arose for the balloon from the ordinary citizen, the balloon became a city landmark. Hence one must know — this is a fundamental presupposition, presupposing what is fundamental — how to determine the intrinsic — what is framed — and know what one is excluding as frame and outside-the-frame.
What is constructed according to a logic of ends and means is deconstructed when it comes into contact with the outermost edge. It was agreed that since the meaning of the balloon could never be known absolutely, extended discussion was pointless, or at least less purposeful than the activities of those who, for example, hung green and blue paper lanterns from the warm gray underside, in certain streets, or seized the occasion to write messages on the surface, announcing their availability for the performance of unnatural acts, or the availability of acquaintances.
Also, his collection, Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts. And, also, can be located via a Google search. View all 6 comments. Apr 15, Paras2 rated it it was amazing. May 25, Knight of Cups Reviews rated it really liked it Shelves: school. Very interesting short story. Apr 02, Kest Schwartzman rated it it was amazing.
Jul 17, Tash rated it it was amazing. A cute little whimsical short story about authorial intention, and the purpose and meaning of art. As a giant balloon comes to exist in a city numerous people have different interactions with this mystical balloon, all of which reflect different attitudes to art. I found this adorable, although I do get frustrated when people have conceptions of art that are different to mine, and this is one of those times.
This was a gentle and almost convincing glimpse into another person's opinion. Also I ju A cute little whimsical short story about authorial intention, and the purpose and meaning of art. Also I just really love the balloon as a choice of metaphor or I suppose this could be seen as a literal art piece within a piece of fiction as well , it just brings such, sorry for repeating myself, soft whimsy to something that could otherwise be made into something complicated and dense.
Mar 30, Lea Dokter rated it it was ok. Beautifully written but entirely confusing. Feb 14, Waleed Khateeb rated it liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A Matter of Perspective: A review based on Postmodernism theory. Anything new or different in any field throw out history that encounters people becomes controversial.
The perspectives of people differ from one person to another. People try to support this new object, go against it or just take a neutral stance. In this story, this object is the story itself.
It presents the various angles of observing the story. Thinking about these various angles gives readers an opportunity to have a wider and clearer understanding of the concept of observing an object. Those who support the existence of the balloon simulate open-minded people.
They accept the new trends and movements they see. They consider change a natural element of life. They also try to make the most use of these new movements and trends.
Readers can see that in the children's playing around the balloon and in the speech of those people who started mentioning parts of it to tell others about their places. They don't care about its meaning or purpose as long as they are benefiting from it. In this story the benefits may be the ecstasy of reading such a story or the opening of a new door of writing for young writers to imitate this style of writing. On the contrary, those who started questioning the balloon's existence and couldn't understand its formation and meaning initiated a kind of hostility toward it.
They simulate those who are conventional. They refuse accepting any kind of change related to traditions. Man is an enemy of what he is ignorant about. Leaving what he got used to creates a huge problem for him. That's why he stands against change. Readers can see that in authorities' attempts to destroy the balloon.
Critics didn't like this form of writing at the beginning and tried to demolish it but they couldn't' due to people's admiration and appreciation of it which made it more acceptable and common. The revelation of the real purpose of the existence of the balloon makes it clear that no final answers can be reached when questioning it.
It's very subjective and personal. It makes those who chose to be neutral justified. No need to think about the whole issue at all because it could be anything. This subjectivity is the core of this writing style. The story tells readers that it doesn't care about what all people think.
It has its own intentions. The girl in the story maybe simulates writing, and the meeting that's mentioned at the end of the story is a moment of reconciliation between the speaker and writing in general after a period of dispute. Relativity is overwhelming in this story. It simulates the only fixed thing in the nature of humans which is change.
Differences are what make people unique. Therefore, it's sensible to acknowledge the right of writers to write in any way they like. And the variance of reactions will always exist. Sep 19, Simon rated it it was ok Shelves: almost-never-read , short-stories , why-did-i-read-this.
Analysis of Barthelme's The Balloon Essay
One of the targets in Donald Barthelme's second collection of short stories, Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts , is society's blind gropings for truth. The author probes the problems, if not the impossibility, of discovering meaning both in the external world and in one's own consciousness. Words, he seems to conclude, are our only connection with the inner and outer worlds, but they are seductive in making us believe we can traverse the gap between question and knowledge. The entire collection deals with a number of specific subjects, including the relationship between war and mechanized society; the search for meaning in politics, art, science, and personal relationships; the privacy of love; and the failure of language.
The Balloon by Donald Barthelme, 1968
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. The Balloon. Other editions. Error rating book. Refresh and try again.