Friday, September 05, 2008

"After You're On the Parkway It's Clear Sailing!"

I am going to "teach" Donald Barthelme's story "The Joker's Greatest Triumph" next week. Looking back at it in preparation, I realized how much the punctuation has inspired me (i.e., how much thievery I have practiced upon it), especially (but not only) in my first book. "Tell me Bruce what is it you're drinking there?" asked Fredric. "I'm sorry Fredric it's tomato juice. Can I get you a glass?" I could contemplate those absent commas all day! In fact I think I will. Later in the story, exclamation points take over in true comic book style. "Well we'll have to hurry to get out to the airport!" Batman says, and asks Commissioner Gordon for directions. Gordon advises him to "[T]ake a right on Memorial Drive until it connects with Gotham Parkway! After you're on the Parkway it's clear sailing!" I have given Portis credit for all the punctuation I have stolen from him. I don't know how I forgot Barthelme.