A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane: Stories

A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane: Stories

by Barry Yourgrau


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Ever dreamed of strolling through a Dali print? Or stepping into a fairy tale? Open A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane and experience the rush of having reality yanked from underfoot.

This is the book that put Barry Yourgrau on the literary map, where he remains as an icon of imaginative prowess. In A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane, Yourgrau focuses his wide-awake subconscious mind on well-trodden themes—fathers, mothers, lovers, sex, the imagination itself—and recasts them into madcap parables, surrealistic fables, and grotesque fantasies. Here are dreamscapes compressed into razor-sharp prose, where a twelve-inch girl lolls in her date’s spaghetti, where a warrior steps out of the Iliad as an intruder in a backyard swimming pool, where a man climbs inside a cow on a bet. Hilarious, subversive, and uniquely entertaining, Yourgrau treats readers to a circus of surreal, impish beauty, poignant flashes of tragedy, and a headstand of everyday reality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628727029
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 05/09/2017
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Barry Yourgrau is a writer and performance artist. He is also the author of Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act as well as Haunted Traveller, Wearing Dad’s Head, and The Sadness of Sex, which was adapted into a movie in which he stars. He and his work have appeared on MTV’s Unplugged: Spoken Word and NPR’s All Things Considered and Selected Shorts, among others. He lives in New York City.

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A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
debherter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just got this book an hour ago. Had to make myself stop reading so I can save some more for later. It would be too easy to give in to the delightful strangeness and finish the whole book without stopping!
robert_nagle More than 1 year ago
SUMMARY: Spellbinding flash fiction which is silly/fantastic/profound – take your pick. RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIFE: Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen, David Byrne, Erotica Flash Fiction, Rene Magritte art This collection of short prose pieces (each about a page long) depict seemingly ordinary situations where fantastically absurd things happen. They seem less like like stories than cosmic jokes or Zen fairy tales for Americans. Each prose piece offers surprises and revelations. (“A man comes home and finds his wife in bed with a squirrel”, “A couple of girls are locked up in a big aquarium,” “I have the last pack of cigarettes in the world; but no matches.”) The characters themselves are less interesting than their situations; one page is enough for them to fall in love or meet imaginary creatures or feel some grand feeling. A lot of the prose pieces are sexually explicit but strange (in one a man finds a map of Greenland on the inside of a girl’s thigh). The prose style is compact and exquisite and easy to read (and suitable for being performed publicly). Now that I’m finished, almost none of the pieces have stuck in my head; all I retain is the memory of being dazzled by a rapid series of unreal images and events. On the bright side, I probably could reread these pieces and enjoy them just as much as the first time. What is the aim of these koan-like stories? Should the reader notice the allegorical resonances or simply enjoy Yourgrau’s marvelous and whimsical sense of the absurd? With Kafka or Buzzati, the initial situation may have been absurd (i.e., turning into a cockroach), but the author spent considerable effort expanding on the idea and giving it an air of plausibility. But Yourgrau’s stories are more playful than plausible. I am unsure whether to call this a profound literary work — you can’t have real character development or serious drama in a form so compact and whimsical. These kinds of stories don’t NEED to be profound — especially when the far-fetched imagery is so metaphorical. In the Soupbone story, the protagonist jumps out of an airplane while emptying a shoebox of letters from his old love; to his surprise he finds a falling dog also in midair helplessly trying to chase after a bone. Why a dog? Why a soupbone? Part of the fun of these stories is trying to relate the imagery to some universal feeling of dismay or anomie – if that is even possible. The stories grab and intrigue me, but they don’t really move me; that is not the point. Yourgrau has written sequels to this collection using this same innovative short form: Sadness of Sex (about sex) and the NastyBook (geared towards younger readers). This form breaks all rules and takes advantage of today’s reader’s short attention span and the magical possibilities of prose. Highly recommended.