Donald Barthelme

The Glass Mountain
  • The Glass Mountain

  • A glass mountain sits in the middle of a city and at the top sits a 'beautiful, enchanted symbol'. Seeking to disenchant it, the narrator must climb the mountain. Confronted by the jeers of acquaintances, the bodies of previous climbers and the claws of a guarding eagle he, slowly, begins to ascend. In true postmodernist form, subject and purpose collide as Donald Barthelme uses one-hundred fragmented statements to destabilise a symbol of his own - literature's conventional forms and practices. With a quest, a princess and an array of knights, Barthelme subverts that most traditional of genres, the fairy-tale; irony, absurdity, and playful self-reflexivity are the champions of this short story.

Donald Barthelme (1931-1989) published twelve books, including two novels and a prize-winning children's book. He was a regular contributor to the New Yorker and taught creative writing at the University of Houston. In his career, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Book Award, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, among others.