Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth


John Barth is best known for his wit and clever use of language. He wrote short stories like "Lost in the Funhouse," and novels like The Sot-Weed Factor and The Floating Opera. This story was published in 1968, a time of great upheaval in America (race riots, war, hippies, etc.). This story takes place on Independence Day during World War II. The layout of the story is weird. It looks like there are parts of the story out of order and math problems in the middle. They all are part of some equations or formula Barth wants you to put together. The crazy nature of the story makes the story a funhouse in itself.


Ambrose: The main dude of the story. He is at that awkward, thirteen-year-old time in his life.

Magda: A fourteen-year-old girl who goes on the vacation with Ambrose’s family.


Ambrose takes a trip with his family to Ocean City, Maryland. Ambrose's parents and uncle sit up front in the car and he sits in the back with Magda and his older brother Peter. During the car ride, they play games. The first game is sighting towers, the other game is cards. Then they arrive in Maryland. They go to the boardwalk and Ambrose's mom gives him money to go have fun. Ambrose is very nervous because he likes Magda. His older brother acts cool around Magda and Ambrose hates that. He wants to tell Magda that he loves her. Then the kids go in the funhouse. Peter and Magda go off by themselves, and Ambrose is left alone in the funhouse.