16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 1996
In his story, "The Immortal," Jorge Luis Borges describes a
labyrinth as "a structure compounded to confuse men; its
architecture, rich in symmetries, is subordinated to that end."*
Similarly, the stories of Barth's collection _Lost in the Funhouse_,
present a labyrinth of narrative fiction, in their exploration
of the story as medium, voice, and tool of the magician. The
fourteen stories, reflecting Barth's idea of a narrative as
a structure, take the varied forms of Mobius strip, letter,
autobiography, and tale; what makes for additional complexity,
is the insistence by each of the stories' characters (who include
a siamese twin, heroes of the Odyssey,and an abandoned court
minstrel) to have his or her say. Inherent in this is Barth's
insistence on the infinite number of possible constructions
of a narrative, which stun the reader through his descriptions,
plot lines (knots, in some cases), and ideas. Read _Lost
in the Funhouse_ to witness Barth's magic, and to be reminded
of the combined power of voice and language, storytelling.
*(Jorge Luis Borges, "The Immortal," _Labyrinths_: New Directions
on 27 March 2014
Lost in the Funhouse (1968) is a short story collection by American author John Barth. The postmodern stories are extremely self-conscious and self-reflexive and are considered to exemplify metafiction.
Though Barth's reputation rests mainly on his long novels, the stories "Night-Sea Journey", "Lost in the Funhouse", "Title" and "Life-Story" from Lost in the Funhouse are widely anthologized. The book appeared the year after the publication of Barth's essay The Literature of Exhaustion, in which Barth said that the traditional modes of realistic fiction had been used up, but that this exhaustion itself could be used to inspire a new generation of writers, citing Nabokov, Beckett, and especially Borges as exemplars of this new approach. Lost in the Funhouse took these ideas to an extreme, for which it was both praised and condemned by critics.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2005
... is what another minstrel once said, and it best sums up my experience of this book. I'd been well on my way becoming a fan of John Barth after having read "The Floating Opera" but this book made me fall in love with him his writing the narrator who tells the narrated untellable etc. etc.:) In honest, the chaotic whole made up of these seemingly disjointed stories, is simply awe-inspiring. At least two of them, "Echo" and "Menelaide", are my personal favourites. As a reader you are made to pull your own weight in the medium-that-is-the-message part, and it's not always easy. Other times, you are just invited to laugh or wonder or cry and often all at the same time. I am looking forward to reading all of his other books - there's no turning back now...