- Dramatic Screenplays
- Second Marriage 1985
- Tracer 1986
- Fiction: Novels
- There Must Be Some Mistake 2014
- Waveland 2009
- Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss with Steven Barthelme (2001)
- Bob, The Gambler (1997)
- Painted Desert, (Viking, 1995)
- The Brothers (Viking, 1993)
- Natural Selection (Viking, 1989)
- Two Against One (Weinfield and Nicolson, 1988)
- Tracer (Simon and Schuster, 1985)
- Second Marriage (Simon and Schuster, 1984)
- War and War (1971)
- Fiction: Short Stories
- Elroy Nights 2004
- The Law of Averages: New and Selected Stories, 2000
- Moon Deluxe 1987
- Chroma 1983
- Rangoon, 1970
- Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss (written with brother Steven)
By Ben Carver (SHS)
Frederick Barthelme, brother of the late post modernist Donald and the writer Steven Barthelme, is a Mississippi writer who currently lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He currently teaches at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has many well-respected books, including Moon Deluxe (1983), The Brothers (1993), Natural Selection (1990), and most recently, Bob, the Gambler. All of his novels are based in urban settings with urban modifications. The South, TV, suburbs, divorce, and sexual confusion all play important roles in his novels. Not only does he include these subjects in his novels, he puts a sort of “comical relief” (Hempel 3) to some of the most enticing issues of our complex society. One reviewer calls him the sympathetic satirist of suburban America.
Not only does The New York Times say that Barthelme is a gifted writer, they go on to say that he is the master of a kind of rueful, irony-laden dialogue that gives his characters the charm of their self-deprivation and the dignity of cool and good-humored resignation of their woefulness.” (Wrye, 17)
Barthelme was born October 10, 1943, in Houston, Texas. His two brothers, Donald and Steven, are also writers. (Note: Donald Barthelme has died since this writing).Not only is Barthelme a successful writer, he is also an artist. His paintings have been shown all over the country in such places as The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Louisiana Gallery in Houston, Texas, The Seattle Art Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York City (Hempel 13).
He improved his artistic skill at The Museum of Fine Arts 1965-1966. (Fischer 5) and studied art at Tulane University, and the University of Houston. In 1977 he received his Master of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University. While there, he received the Eliot Coleman Award for prose for his short story, “Storyteller.” In 1979 and 1980 he won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Barthelme is currently at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where he teaches and edits the Mississippi Review (Fischer 6). He has also received an NEA Fellowship Award. His work has appeared in many periodicals including the New York Times News Quarterly, Playboy, and the John Hopkins Annual News Letter ((Hopkins 213). He has co-written Double Down, a work of non-fiction about gambling with his brother Steven.
Overall, Frederick Barthelme seems to be a fiery writer with a keen way of knowing how the characters feel and want to react even though they usually do not react in this way. He is a modernist who is writing about modern suburban events and situations. It will be interesting to follow this writer.
Note: Frederick (Rick) Barthelme was also a founding member and the drummer on what many consider to be the greatest psychedelic record of all time: “The Parable of Arable Land” by the Red Crayola from 1967. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=1145&cf=1145 (Information for this note provided by Z. P. Spadaccini.)
Barthelme’s book, Elroy Nights (2004), was one of five finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. According to some reports, the book has been optioned for a feature-length motion picture by independent filmmaker Gary Hawkins. Barthelme continues as director of the Center for Writers and editor of the Mississippi Review at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. He received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters fiction award for Waveland in 2010. In 2014 he published There Must Be Some Mistake.
A Review of Natural Selection
by Ben Carver (SHS)
Frederick Barthelme has written a masterpiece full of literary pop art. His style of writing includes modern art and cultural lingoes. As the plot begins, Peter Wexler is a married, but unhappy, mid-forties man going through his mid-life crisis. He does what many post-modernist men do; he gets caught up in a nasty affair. The affair causes his wife, Lily, some problems, but not as many as it does Peter. He struggles with his predicament for a while, and realizes he was wrong, and realizes that he should get his life back on the right track. But before he can, many more problems arise. One is the return of Lily’s brother Ray and his wife Judy. They show Peter and Lily what true love is all about, even if there are problems.
You think that everyone in the book is going to turn out all right, when suddenly a disaster occurs. Peter’s dream is not about to become a reality. Peter is just a man that has run out of luck. This book teaches us, in modern terms, not to fool around too long, get your life straight, and do what’s right.
There were several things that I did not care for in this book. The main “negative” thing is the sex scene between Ray and Judy on the patio (78-179). This scene added nothing to the context of the book of any importance. I also did not like the ending to the book. I wish he could have ended the book on a positive note, but I guess that ending was part of what Barthelme was trying to say about the modern world.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone wanting to read a modern piece of work about up-to-date issues and one that deals with real issues. However, I strongly advise against letting immature readers read this book because, first of all, they wouldn’t understand it, and second of all, I think it is more or less an adult book.
- Ole Miss Writers Site has information about Barthelme.
- Mississippi’s Morning After by Frederick Barthelme. Article published on September 2, 2005, in New York Times about Katrina in Hattiesburg.
- Thinking Like a Painter: an interview by Donald L. Hall with Frederick Barthelme in Southern Scribe
- New York Times headlines “Bob the Gambler’ Author Indicted for Cheating at Blackjack.” (1998)
- TWO WRITERS CLEARED IN CASINO CASE TESTIMONY BACKS UP BARTHELMES (article is archived)
Sun Herald, The (Biloxi, MS) Published on 1999-08-10.
- Kirkus Review of Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss (Nonfiction by Frederick Barthelme and Steven Barthelme)
- Wikipedia’s entry for Red Krayola (Red Crayola)
- Aleda, Shirley. Mississippi Writers. Penguin, University of Mississippi, 1995.
- Hempel, Amy. “A Hard Life for the Non-Poor.” Review of Natural Selection. New York Times Book Review (August 19 1996)
- Wing, Jeff. “Another Roadside Distraction.” Boston Book Review. (December 2 1996).
- Barthelme, Frederick. Painted Desert: Penguin Publishers. Middlesex, England, 1995.