As much as I have traversed the flat open areas of postmodern literature, I figure I simply must not get it. If I was being nice to myself, I guess I would say it is just not for me. Yet still, these tomes (even the short ones are tomes in a way) fascinate me. They challenge and madden me and hopefully make me a better reader. Some are good, like Infinite Jest, Against I don’t get almost the Day and The Public Burning, all books I quite liked even though I don’t understand almost half of what they are about. But some are just plain boring and read like the ingredient list of some synthetic cleaner you don’t want to touch your skin. Sadly, the last book I will read in 2016, John Barth’s short story collection falls quite snuggly into that category. These stories reads more like jilted, oppressive how-to manuals that break down story into little bitty parts that are microscopic and incomprehensible at times. It is hard to pick out a few elements that I like, since most of these stories, especially the shorter ones that range in length from half a page to ten pages, are all fit this description. Two do stick out, one is the title story, which I read earlier this before I decided to read this whole book. It tells the story of one boy’s trip to a carnival and how the story itself threatens to go of the rails. That same charm can also be found in the story “Title” where the author tells you what story he is trying to write, which is a story that has no real beginning or end. I am sure these stories have a brilliance and god forbid fun factor I was simply blind to, but it is hard to recommend a book that offered as little narrative enjoyment as this.