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This is Barry Yourgrau's debut book the one that put him on the literary map where he remains a landmark of imaginative prowessIn A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane the author focuses his wide awake subconscious mind on thematic standards father mother lover sex the imagination itself and recasts them into madcap parable surrealistic fables and grotesue 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 Iliadas an intruder in a backyard swimming pool where a man climbs inside a cow on a betHilarious subversive and uniuely entertaining Yourgrau treats readers to a circus of surreal impish beauty poignant flashes of tragedy and a headstand of everyday reality

10 thoughts on “A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane

  1. says:

    Barry Yourgrau born in South Africa in 1949 and living in New York City for many many yearsA book of dozens and dozens of one and two page micro fictions where you will encounter bizarre happenings of all varieties casts shapes and sizes a man climbs inside a cow gentlemen in tuxedos perch in a tree a couple of girls are locked up in an auarium a man comes home to find his wife in bed with a suirrel there’s a bathtub filled with rutabagas it snowing in a living room a man rents two brown bears sheep graze on a supermarket roof Welcome to the world of Barry Yourgrau located at the intersection of Freudian psychoanalysis surrealist art and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are But wait enough with the generalizations; here are the openings lines from three twisted Barry snappersHULA HORRORIt’s very late at night – very early in the morning I’m in a thatched roof hut Earthen floor Kerosene lamp A girl – a fellow tourist – has gotten drunk and is now dancing just for me lasciviously as she can manage in the middle of the place She sways and bobs come hither style She’s stripped off her clothing and is attired solely in a ‘native’ grass hula skirt colored pinkI drink as I have copiously all evening; the gramophone sualls the lamp throws a melodramatic light harsh utterly black in the shadows I keep time with my glass thinking Man the brochures don’t tell you about this and then a horrible realizations pops into my mind like a window shade flying up That pink skirt I realize my skin turning icy – that pink skirt is hideously evil it’s an instrument of black magic a voodoo booby trap planted here on us two boozed up wooly brained touristsVILLAGE LIFECountry girls red cheeked and buxom stand feet wide apart at a counter They lean on it elbows propped forearms crossed They chat Their skirts are gathered above their waistsAn old man plods down the line of them with a bucket He reaches in between the thighs of each girl and puts the fruit he brings out into the bucket The girls laugh The atmosphere is easy They mock the old man they make cracks and someone ruffles his few hairsARS POETICAA man comes in He has a glass throat You can see his larynx in there a microphone disk a little speaker horn A mailman comes in with his big bag He opens the small transparent hatch in the man’s throat and pushes in a couple of blue air letters The man beings to recite – a wonderful poem about being jealous of the clouds; then another poem not uite as good about a forbidden voyage“So this is how poetry is made” I think “What are some other ways? And as a mini tribute to my love of Barry’s wildly inventive fiction I wrote this little prose poemTHE UAGMIREBarry is stuck in a real uagmire He just performed his act which ended with his mounting a sheep and afterwards slitting its throat and hurling the sheep out a third story window The women organizers of his performance much to his surprise found his act disagreeable right from the start They went ahead and called the police The officers could see blood smeared all over the walls and floor “Sir we invited him to perform his flash fiction We never expected anything like this” In his turn Barry told the officers about a bog of emotion and a marshland of gut feelings that must be expressed in than just words The police didn’t buy a word of it and hauled him away What an abysmal ending to his performance Barry has landed himself in a real uagmire He has a nut to crack and no sheep to crack it with

  2. says:

    Barry Yourgrau is a uniue voice in literary world Whose world observes the fantastic in the mundane with heightened vividness and also observes the natural world with its peculiar absurdity You get a dichotomy One may take sometime to get used to this world but once you are taken into it and respond to its rhythms you will crave for Though I write under A man jumps out of an airplane I am also thinking about Wearing dad's head while I write this Perhaps the duality of his writing content is best shines in one story according to me Check thisArs Poetica A man comes in He has a glass throat You can see his larynx in there a microphone disk a little speaker horn A mailman comes in with his big bag He opens the small transparent hatch in the man's throat and pushes in a couple of blue air letters The man begins to recite a wonderful poem about being jealous of the clouds; then another poem not uite as good about a forbidden voyage So this is how poetry is made I think What are some other ways? A man in a baggy checkered suit climbs down a ladder from the ceiling He carries a bucket In the bucket beautifully colored fish are swimming They have been painted The water rumbles with their brightness The man crouches and rolls his eyes about and manipulates his hands mysteriously over the bucket He murmurs in a strange tongue Nothing at all happens but it's really uite marvelous just the sameHis world is like some knead where humans turn into opposite sexes shrinks expands animals takes human ualities inanimate changes to animate Reality dissolves perhaps dissolves isn't the right word There is no yardstick to match his world with the reality we live Check this beautiful storyPrimavera I go for a walk at night in a school yard in the country It's early spring I come around the corner of one of the old wooden buildings and this is what I see a hurricane lamp hangs glowing from a tree In its light a naked man is bent over a naked young girl whose head is in a metal washtub At first I think blushing that they're doing some sex thing bobbing for apples and I turn to go away; but then I see the guy is in fact holding down the girl's head in the tub she suirms around like she's choking I hurry towards them yelling The guy turns around He smiles as I come up He's middle aged and healthy looking He holds one hand on the girl's neck and gestures with the other It's a fertility rite he explains pleasantly Are you kidding? I tell him The girl's hair is spread out in the water and she suirms and grunts and paws softly at the grass I reach out for his wrist to make him let go and he gives a cry and tries to ward me off and we get involved in an awkward shifting tugging struggle made all the bizarre there under the lamp by his nakedness Finally we lose our balance together and sprawl violently over the girl and the tub knocking everything all over the place I manage to pull free out of the tangle and get to my knees The tub is upended on its side in front of an expanding glistening pool; the girl droops in the grass hacking her skinny chest heaving I stare at her dumbfounded with each watery cough of hers the air fills with tiny fruits and flowers They sift around her onto the grass pale and stunted a garden of puny litter See what you've done? the guy says He sits next to me rubbing his shoulder He looks miserable Will you look at that measly stuff Man he groans don't you know anything about the seasons? And is there better way to portray Texas I have never read one like this TexasSome guys are driving through Texas They're groggy and dazed from all the hours the awesome monotony On all sides they see nothing scrub plain as if the earth were flat There is a smooth line drawn in the dust under the sky It's the horizon They drive towards it The engine drones Sometimes a small single shape appears in the distance They watch it as it grows mysteriously It reproduces It enlarges upwards in creeping increments Suddenly it acuires detail it becomes buildings a city For a few strange minutes they're in it The fact of scale dazzles them They crane their necks watching through the rear window as first the details go They watch the shapes begin to sink by gradual increments all the way into the distance until there's only the horizon smooth dusty and they're back in the center of a flat world This is Texas Their eyes glaze They look at each other They stare blankly and rub their cheeks They have nothing to say They see miles of scrub desert in the windows They stare off ahead stupefied waiting for the next speck to appear to start to reproduce and rise Way down near Galveston a scrawny crewcut kid in Levis and pointed boots gets tired The sun's high His hands are all torn up from turning the big crank handle He decides to sneak off and go swimming He pulls off his clothes and jumps into the Gulf He floats on his back spouting water His blisters sting He thinks To hell with those guys in the car Have a good laugh at thisDomestic Farce A man comes home and finds his wife in bed with a suirrel He stands in the bedroom doorway gaping at them The wife stares back in fright over the covers which are drawn up over her nose The suirrel's little head peeps out similarly beside her The culprits look so idiotic together that the man can't help himself he bursts out laughing He sees the nuts strewn all over his wife's clothes on the floor and the sight makes him positively howl so he has to clutch onto the door frame to support himself The wife and the suirrel exchange wide eyed glances; but then they catch the bug themselves and slowly they start to chuckle the wife in fearful whimpering surges the suirrel in its high hysterical tweeting Soon all restraints are by the boards; the room rocks with the jangle and din of mirth going full blast Then abruptly the husband stops laughing His face turns ashen He disappears from the doorway The wife sits up; she calls out his name There's no answer She darts a look of terrible concern at the suirrel and she clambers out of bed and rushes naked out the door The suirrel twitches in the bedclothes It hears voices shouts and it hops up onto the pillow down onto the floor grabs up an armful of nuts leaps onto the window sill pauses dead still in attentive silence and then hops onto the fire escape At this exact instant the blade of an axe crashes down onto the window ledge The suirrel bolts onto a nearby tree limb spraying nuts everywhere You and your goddamned pets the man screams in the bedroom above the caterwaul of sobbing The suirrel races from tree to tree until it is far away down the block It fetches up finally in some top branches to catch its breath Its little heart pitter patters The wind carries up to it the scraps of agitated voices; the sunlight makes a glinting speck of the axe head in the distant window The suirrel sits among the leaves switching its tail back and forth It thinks Where the hell does he get off calling me a 'pet' The title story Soup bone A man jumps out of an airplane Sobbing he empties a shoe box of love letters into the whooshing air The letters shoot up and stick against the puffy bottoms of some clouds The man looks and groans unhappily but then gets caught back up in the tumult of falling He gulps and clutches at his head but his hat is long since gone A cloud rushes up under his feet and the man cringes and crashes into it The cloud flings him up into the air as if it were foam rubber He sprawls back down onto it in a heap It's a tiny cloud and the man clings to it desperately like a shipwreck survivor hanging on to the side of a barrel He looks around Out of nowhere something hits right next to him and bounces away into the sky it's a big soup bone the kind dogs love The man looks up and sees the looming onrushing image of a dalmatian hurtling towards him The dog barks and flails as if skidding on vertical ice Its tongue trails up over its nose its ears stream straight up The man gives a shout and frantically flaps his feet to try to maneuver out of the way The dog crashes right on top of him The cloud heaves violently The man almost loses his grip The dog scrambles and slides down the man's leg and hangs on to an ankle Let go let go the man shouts at it He kicks furiously with the leg but the dog hangs on for dear life whining eyes shut tight You dumb mutt let go the man screams He feels his aching fingers slipping He gives a terrific leg shake and then frantically lets go with one hand to deliver a wild desperate punch He misses The cloud capsizes and pops loose Screaming and whining and barking the man and the dog tumble headlong into the wide blue sky I should thank Glen Russel whose review I read years back and made a bookmark of this writer Else I wouldn't have discovered this amazing and uniue writer

  3. says:

    This is such an interesting approach to flash It's not uite like anything else So strange fleeting and non graspable Sometimes I wish it could be grasped a little but there we are It wouldn't be what it is if it was

  4. says:

    Barry Yourgrau writes down those dreams you forget when the alarm goes off I love thespareness of his style most of these stories are a page to a page and a half long and the weirdness of content After reading a few you easily slip into a slightly surreal dimension and its logic soon feels uite comfortable It's the refreshing sorbet betweencourses of standard fiction

  5. says:

    This is truly a funcarnivallike collection of short surreal stories between 500 and about 1000 words each Anyone looking for an escape from reality or a tool to guide your own daydreams will really enjoy this compilation I kept thinking of these stories as a swim inside a Dali painting interwoven with Phish soundscapes Sesame Street ish characters who have Playboy tendenciesThere's some really interesting scenarios; a man goes inside of a cow on a bet a guy with a last cigarette on earth but no matches tries to seduce a woman who has the fire he finds out that he was seduced by her and loses his cigarette and dozens of wildsurrealsensual tales that are incredibly twisted and provocativeMy only wish is that he expect would expand some of his stories into short novels or even short stories I was always left feeling I wanted to read a little

  6. says:

    Surreal short stories And I mean short Each one is anywhere from 1 4 pages long But they go much deeper in their metaphors A sampling of opening lines from the stories A man climbs into a cow on a bet It's snowing in the living room A man comes home and finds his wife in bed with a suirrel On the bus I meet a guy who says his hobby is jailsIt's poetry and prose fiction but than fiction It's a short uick trippy read Though there's too many stories about naked girls than I particularly care for some of these stories will stay with you long after you finish them You'll probably have a favorite

  7. says:

    I think these short short stories would make good songs The Beatles could have used them for lyrics Not sure they work so well as short short stories I did love The Joke A mother and son both decide to wear disguises when they meet And neither can understand why the other is looking so weird It haunts their relationship foreverOtherwise I'd rather read something by Yourgrau that lasts a bit longer develops into something substantial This book wreaks of flippancy Or maybe I'm just jealous

  8. says:

    A true masterpiece this collection of flash fiction is like a smorgasbord of rich and exotic desserts each sweeter and colorful than the previous While absolutely absurdist in content Mr Yourgrau gives us a lot to ponder and analyze in this series of dream like episodes A true treasure that should be shared and savored

  9. says:

    An unusual collection of short stories I like stories that have a definite beginning middle and end Some of these stories met that criteria others didn't but seemed like they could be the start of a longer story Some of the interesting ones were Milk Domestic Farce On the Lake and the very surreal story where the books title comes from Soup Bone

  10. says:

    While Yourgrau's one and two page short stories or flash fiction are concise poetic and imaginative they really didn't leave much an impression on me Much like Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine by Diane Williams this feels like a collection of revised notebook or dream journal entries than it does deliberate prose and never manages to cross the line into successful experimental fiction A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane doesn't necessarily fail but it doesn't uite succeed either