McCaffery: Do you recall the germinating idea for The Dead Father?
Barthelme: A matter of having a father and being a father.
McCaffery: In some basic sense the book deals with the notion that we’re all dragging around behind us the corpses of our fathers, as well as the past in general.
Barthelme: Worse: Dragging these ahead of us. I have several younger brothers, among them my brother Frederick, who is also a writer. After The Dead Father came out, he telephoned and said, “I’m working on a new novel.” I said, “What’s it called?” and he said, “The Dead Brother.” You have to admire the generational wit there.
Featured is a painting by my brother. Ever feel like you are, inevitably, always in a shadow? Or do you feel inspired by a talented sibling?