Tuesday, January 30, 2007

¿Quien es mas Slipstream: Donald Barthelme o Alan DeNiro?

"The Indian Uprising" (1968) v. "Our Byzantium" (2002)

City being invaded by anachronistic barbarians:
IU: Unnamed American city whose streets are named Boulevard Mark Clark, Rue Chester Nimitz and George C. Marshall Allée, somewhere between Houston and Manhattan.
OB: Unnamed American college down nestled within the Allegheny foothills, in striking distance of Pittsburgh.

IU: Comanches
OB: Byzantines

Tortured prisoners:
IU: Two scenes of torture of captured Comanche — one water torture, one attachment of wires to testicles revealing the Comanche prisoner's name was Gustave Aschenbach.
OB: None.

Narrator emotionally tortured by lover:
IU: Maybe.
OB: Definitely.

Potential as origin of Dan Rather "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" episode:
IU: Yes
OB: No references to "Kenneth;" chronologically unlikely.

Scenes of explicit erotic longing:
IU: No.
OB: Several, sweaty, sweetened with Pop Tarts.

Scenes in Ford Pintos:
IU: None.
OB: One.

Orangutan smoke:
IU: No
OB: Yes

Buildings sacked:
IU: None, just streets and barricades and clouds of arrows
OB: A hospital, wheelchairs tossed from third-story windows

Men on horseback:
IU: Horseless Comanches, apparently, hidden by girls in their apartments and under their long blue mufflers.
OB: Cuirassiers, shields with gold and blue owls on them, helmets maroon along the edges, some with blue feathers, blocking traffic and dragging narrator from his Toyota Tercel.

References to a female character being beaten up by a dwarf in a bar in Tenerife:
IU: Two.
OB: None.

Country for old men?
IU: Maybe.
OB: Definitely not.

Locus of ennui:
IU: Off the page.
OB: Comin' at ya, straight out of Erie.

Verdict: The idea of one's contemporary urban existence and most private domestic life under assault by phantom armies of the past is a persistent and powerful meme employed by gifted fabulists to articulate the sense of looming barbarism that intrudes upon our emotional sanctuaries of private intimacies, regardless of historical milieu. Both are on your required reading list. Barthelme had a better beard, but DeNiro is working on it.

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