Introduction & Overview of Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning

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Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning Summary & Study Guide Description

Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning by Donald Barthelme.

Donald Barthelme was one of a number of experimentalists writing in the 1960s, and he was heavily influenced by earlier experimental writers, from the eighteenth-century novelist Laurence Sterne to James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges in the twentieth century. Barthelme and such Writers as John Barth, Joseph Heller, Ken Kesey, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Wolfe played with fictional forms, language, representation, and established literary norms. Their work was given a variety of labels-black humor, metafiction, surfiction, superfiction, irrealism-that attempted to describe the ways that the authors used language. "Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning," a story in Barthelme's 1968 collection of short fictions Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts, consists of twenty-four scenes, or Vignettes, that concern Robert Kennedy, a then-powerful political figure. These vignettes are less "story-like" than they are like the work of Karsh of Ottawa, a famous portrait photographer, who explains in the story's ninth scene that in each portrait sitting there is only one shot that is "the right one." What Barthelme appears to offer, therefore, are a series of disconnected portraits. Indeed, throughout his career, Barthelme was deeply concerned with the fragmentary nature of everyday living, and the extent to which it consisted of so much "dreck" (garbage). Early reviews of his work were mixed. Critics who were searching for grand themes and who were used to more linear, plot centered works had a difficult time understanding the seemingly fragmentary and often mundane representations that characterized so much of Barthelme's work. Later critics have found his work to be highly representative of ordinary living in the late twentieth century, so much so that he has even been called a realist, despite the oddities and strange constructions he presents throughout his work.

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