Rotten Rejections: John Barth

Rotten Rejections, John Barth I: The Dorchester Tales

“Barth is really smutty, delighting in filth for its own sake, and completely incapable of being funny. What the agent calls his ‘great good humor’ is an offensive archness and facetiousness, couched in the most stilted language and in sentences most of which are seven or so lines long.”

“John Barth’s stories sound like a penny-whistle out of a wind-bag full of bad odors. He may have read Boccaccio and Chaucer, but he never learned their art of storytelling.”

Rotten Rejections, John Barth II: Giles Goat Boy

“The beginning of this novel intrigued me; I though, Shades of LOLITA! Paraphernalia like this means Nabokov has been more of an influence than we’d dared hope. Alas, the beginning is entirely misleading, and what emerges is a slightly ribald science fiction novel, bawdy rather than witty…while I can see this being published, and even reviewed with puzzled respect, I don’t think it will help a bit to clear up the mystery of what Barth is up to as a writer. Or possibly sell enough to pay its productions costs.”

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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