Painted Desert

Overview

Frederick Barthelme's haunting new novel picks up where his acclaimed previous book, The Brothers, left off. Junior college professor Del Tribute and his cyber-muckraker friend Jen catch some old news footage of the L.A. riots, some of that vivid close-up slow motion shaky-cam stuff with the fires blazing and people getting trashed, and Jen, in particular, is incensed by the barbarity of the scene. At her insistence she and Del, her father, Mike, and her friend Penny decide to step out of the shadows and head to ...
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Overview

Frederick Barthelme's haunting new novel picks up where his acclaimed previous book, The Brothers, left off. Junior college professor Del Tribute and his cyber-muckraker friend Jen catch some old news footage of the L.A. riots, some of that vivid close-up slow motion shaky-cam stuff with the fires blazing and people getting trashed, and Jen, in particular, is incensed by the barbarity of the scene. At her insistence she and Del, her father, Mike, and her friend Penny decide to step out of the shadows and head to ground zero - Los Angeles - to do something, anything, about this particular horror. Their journey takes them from Biloxi, Mississippi, to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, from Alamogordo to the kitschy tourist sites of New Mexico and Arizona. Jen sets up a scourge of e-mail spamming and internet newsgroup posts about the atrocities of the riots, but then one night in Dallas she gets a strange message back from a guy in Las Vegas named Durrell Dobson, who really believes that anarchy is the only game in town. He's sympathetic about the riots, but his messages are filled with bizarre personal sex histories, terrorism threats, an evangelical froth of retribution. As Jen and company make their way west, they discover a fondness for the goofy tourist sites and the land itself and, as Dobson continues to jack up the vengeance rhetoric via e-mail, Jen has second thoughts. Maybe she and Del aren't supposed to be great avengers, maybe just seeing the odd and spectacular world around them is more important than scratching out Evil. Maybe, but Dobson is out there and boiling. His urgent messages rip veils off his schemes, name victims, reveal strategies, and Jen feels oddly responsible for his fervor. How Jen and Del and the others resolve their conflicted interests, and the shocking acts they may have encouraged, provides the eccentric and nuanced conclusion to this ferocious, touching novel of character, culture, and the media. In The Brothers Barthelme went for more th

Barthelme launches two characters from his acclaimed novel The Brothers on a wild and haunting road trip into the interactive heart of contemporary American culture. Net novitiate Jen and her channel-surfing boyfriend, Del, decide they need step out of cyberspace and take a look at the real world--from an online encounter with a psychopath to an epiphany in the Arizona desert. 256 pp. Online promo.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this sequel to The Brothers (LJ 8/93), Barthelme revisits Del and Jen, a wisecracking 1990s couple living in Biloxi, Mississippi. Del, divorced and pushing 50, is starting life over with Jen, a 27-year-old devotee of cyberpunk who carries a laptop computer and a portable television with her at all times. One day, while watching the O.J. Simpson murder trial, Jen decides they need to get in touch with real life. With Jen's father and his latest girlfriend in tow, they drive west to visit some of the key sites of recent history: Dealy Plaza, Florence, and Normandie, Bundy Drive. Along the way they encounter assassination buffs, UFO fanatics, and one dangerous psychopath who forces Jen to rethink her recent drift toward militancy. The episodic road trip format is perfectly suited to Barthelme's quirky humor and postmodern sensibility. This funny and sharply observant novel is one of his best books.-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Bret Easton Ellis
"(Bathelme) is one of the most distinctive prose stylist since Hemmingway, capable of writing sentences so sharp and crisp and suggestive they have a palapable glow." -- Vogue
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140242140
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/1997
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

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