Dallas Wiebe: The Vox Populi Street Stories


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A satirical novel, narrated by Gottlieb Otto Liebgott, a retired German doctor who lives in Cincinnati. It centers on the life and career of Dallasandro Vibini, a private investigator of petty crimes that are emblematic of the inanities and pomposities of our absurd world. It hilariously blends the shaggy dog story with mock-detective fiction and, finally, mock-romance as Vibini (over 50) marries an eighteen year old girl and finds salvation in becoming a father.

Born in Kansas in 1930, Dallas Wiebe took degrees at the University of Michigan, then taught at the University of Cincinnati until his recent retirement. His novel Skyblue the Badass was published by Doubleday: Paris Review Editions in 1969. Burning Deck has published three volumes of short stories: The Transparent Eye-Ball, Going to the Mountain, and Skyblue’s Essays. His most recent book is Our Asian Journey (MLR Editions Canada), a fictionalized account of the great Mennonite trek to Central Asia in the 1880s and a study of the impact of language (Biblical) on a community. He has received the Aga Khan Fiction Prize, a Pushcart Prize (1979), an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship, and the Ohio Governor’s Award for the Arts.

“unsettlingly original”

—Harry Mathews

“one of our best writers of innovative fictions”

—Doug Bolling, American Book Review

“Though it’s more improbable than a dead Irish author writing a great American novel, there is a Dallas Wiebe who lives in Cincinnati and possesses a Flann[O’Brian]ish sense of the absurd.

It begins with the narrator hoping to transform the exploits of a hapless detective named Dallasandro Vibini into a collection of stories along the lines of Watson’s chronicle of Sherlock Holmes. But if you expect conventional mystery tales, you will be disappointed off the bat by the first, “Vibini at the Bat,” which is solved by Vibini’s brother,whose psychic abilities allow him to dispense with clues…

Yet the daftness turns out to be deftness… We hardly notice when the prose turns gossamer…. Wiebe quickly leaves the mystery genre to plunge deeper into Mystery.

—Mark Swartz, The Village Voice

“ each paragraph, even each sentence, shimmers… One does not need to understand every allusion to enjoy the humor of these stories…a carnevalesque world of characters trapped in their “thrownness” yet ultimately liberated by their self-consciousness—the self-reflexive, tongue-in-cheek perversity that strips away the comforting facade of predictabe characterization and, in doing so, deliberately confronts the challenge to capture “the ecstatic moment.”

—Susan Smith Nash, Review of Contemporary Fiction