Donald Barthelme was born on April 7, 1931, and was one of the major U.S. short story writers and novelists of the late twentieth century. Barthelme satirized American life. Born in Philadelphia, Barthelme spent part of his early life in Houston, Texas, and began to write fiction while working as a journalist, director of an art museum and university publicist. These occupations became fuel for his creative fire. His arsenal of techniques included parodies of television shows, radio plays and recipes, long and elaborate metaphors, complex dream sequences, and a break-neck narrative pace. After the publication of his first collection, Come Back Dr. Caligari (1964), Barthelme became a full-time writer of short stories and novels. The latter included Snow White (1967), The Dead Father (1975), and Paradise (1986). Barthelme also published three more short story collections, 60 Stories (1981), Overnight to Many Distant Cities (1983), and 40 Stories (1987). Barthelme died of cancer in 1989.
Thomas Pynchon was born in Glen Cove, New York on May 8, 1937. In 1959 he graduated with a B.A. in English from Cornell, where he had taken Vladimir Nabokov's famous course in modern literature after studying engineering physics and serving in the U.S. Navy for two years. He worked as a technical writer at Boeing for two and a half years. Pynchon won the Faulkner First Novel Award for V. in 1963, and in The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), again his symbolism and commentary on the United States and human isolation have been praised as intricate and masterly, though some reviewers found it to be maddeningly dense. With this book Pynchon won the Rosenthal Foundation Award. Gravity's Rainbow, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 1974, is in part a fictional elegy and meditation on death and an encyclopedic work that jumps through time. Pynchon has also written numerous essays, reviews, and introductions, plus the fictional works Slow Learner, Vineland, Mason & Dixon, Against the Day, and Inherent Vice. His title Bleeding Edge made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2013. He is famous for his reclusive nature, although he has made several animated appearances on The Simpsons television series.