Books: The Product

SADNESS

by DONALD BARTHELME

183 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $5.95.

Donald Barthelme hit the fan during the great Pop art inversion with his short-story collection Come Back, Dr. Caligari (1964). Like his counterparts in painting, Barthelme was out to turn the boring, the banal and the shiny waste of the world's largest consumer society into art with a small a—the smaller the better. "Fragments are the only forms I trust," he wrote, and his plotless arrangements of culture-junk, blown-up clichés and absurd juxtapositions of daily monotonies showered down like confetti.

The intent was to satirize, and the target was anything that had...

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