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A short-story-a-day: Donald Barthelme Add to ...

In the last several years a movement has been underway to declare May the month of the short story. As there are no governing bodies deciding what months mean - and that itself would be a hair-too-whimsical of a short story plot - this is a grassroots movement. To contribute to that movement, I hereby present, every day this month, a short-story link.

TODAY: City of Churches, by Donald Barthelme

Since the human mind is not ready for Barthelme's unnerving, wry novels like Snow White or The Dead Father, start with his short stories. In City of Churches he describes a town where churches are the predominate structures:

"That one," he said, "houses the United Methodist and the Board of Education. The one next to it, which is the Antioch Pentecostal, has the barbershop."

It was true. A red-and-white striped barber pole was attached inconspicuously to the front of the Antioch Pentecostal. "Do many people rent cars here?" Cecelia asked. "Or would they, if there was a handy place to rent them?" "Oh, I don't know," said Mr. Phillips.

The danger of fiction is that what may be surreal at the time will become everyday life.

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