Pynchon apologizes for missing Barthelme’s “Postmodernist Dinner”

A University of Houston exhibit of Donald Barthelme’s papers includes letters from fellow writers, including Thomas Pynchon, who

wrote in 1983 to apologize for not responding to Barthelme’s invitation to a “Postmodernist Dinner”in New York. The notoriously reclusive author of Gravity’s Rainbow said he couldn’t have attended anyway, as he was “between coasts, Arkansas or Lubbock or someplace like ‘at.” (Doing what? one wonders.)

Pynchon also moans about suffering from writer’s block and feeling “like a one-shot flash-in-the-pan amateur.” He jokes that he thought he saw Barthelme in Greenwich Village but didn’t approach him “on the off-chance it was Solzhenitsyn” — a reference to Barthelme’s distinctive facial hair. For a return address, Pynchon listed his literary agent.


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