Waveland by Frederick Barthelme

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Set amidst the tatters of  post-Katrina Gulf Coast Mississippi, Waveland is a brilliantly observed portrait of our times from one of the most incisive novelists at work today.
Partially retired architect Vaughn Williams does what he can to remain "viable." Battling the doldrums of midlife, he teaches an occasional class, reads the newspapers, scours the Internet, and thinks obsessively about his late father. When his ex-wife seeks refuge from her hotheaded boyfriend, Vaughn and his girlfriend, Greta, agree to let her move in, perhaps a little too cavalierly. Add in Vaughan’s annoyingly successful younger brother, who carries a torch for Vaughn’s ex-wife, and lingering suspicions about Greta’s involvement in her husband’s murder and the result is an emotionally resonant tale of mortality, love, regret, and redemption that only Barthelme could unwind.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Frederick Barthelme

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Frederick Barthelme, an American writer in the minimalist tradition, depicts in his writings loneliness, isolation, and fear of intimacy in modern life. Born in 1943 in Houston, Texas, Barthelme attended Tulane University and the University of Houston before studying at Houston's Museum of Fine Arts from 1965-66. He worked as an architectural draftsman, assistant to the director of New York City's Kornblee Gallery, and creative director for advertising firms in Houston during the 1960s and early 1970s. At the same time, his art was featured in such galleries as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Barthelme's fiction often concentrates on scenes rather than plots. They frequently include "snapshots" of popular culture, such as shopping malls and McDonald's restaurants, to illustrate the emotional shallowness of the late twentieth century. Characters who show their feelings and thoughts through actions rather than language are another aspect of Barthelme's work. Barthelme began to write fiction in the 1960s, leading to a change in the direction of his life and art. He earned an M.A. in English from Johns Hopkins University in 1977, then became an English professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and the editor of the Mississippi Review. Barthelme's work includes the novels Two Against One (1988), Natural Selection (1993), and Bob the Gambler (1997), the short story collections Rangoon (1970) and Chroma (1987), and the screenplays Second Marriage (1985) and Tracer (1986). Barthelme is the brother of the well-known experimental writer Donald Barthelme (1931-1989).
Published April 7, 2009 by Vintage. 242 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Waveland

Publishers Weekly

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In his first novel since PEN/Faulkner finalist Elroy Nights , Barthelme offers a strangely detached exploration of the post-Katrina Mississippi Gulf Coast. One ye

Nov 03 2008 | Read Full Review of Waveland

The New York Times

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Frederick Barthelme’s novel, set in post-Katrina Mississippi, concerns a man, his girlfriend, his ex-wife, her lover and lots of TV.

May 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Waveland


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Frederick Barthelme's novel Waveland parallels the fate of the town it was named for, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It's about loss — of property, love and family — but also about starting over and, just maybe, building something better this time.

Apr 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Waveland

Bookmarks Magazine

By jonMon, 04/06/2009 - 10:28.

Apr 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Waveland

Book Forum

Now, as the three stand on the deck of the house looking at a bucolic family of ducks, Vaughn recalls Tony Soprano standing by the pool and imagines Greta “probably thinking about poisoning him the way women poisoned men on Court TV.” Throughout the novel, violence is mostly intimated, but it han...

Jul 24 2014 | Read Full Review of Waveland

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