Between Silliness and Satire: On Black Humor Fiction
During the 1960s, one of the strains of American fiction prompting many readers and critics to believe that novelists were beginning to shed themselves of the lingering constraints of realism still influencing many postwar writers was referred to as "black humor." At first mostly used interchangeably with other terms to describe this new mode of "absolute" comedy, such as "absurdist" or "grotesque," or sometimes regarded as a more radical form of satire, "black humor" was clarified and established as the term of choice to identify this particular literary phenomenon in a 1966 anthology, edited by Bruce Jay Friedman, himself one of the prominent practitioners of the form, entitled, simply, Black Humor.
Between Silliness and Satire is a selection of essays on black humor and black humorists that takes Friedman's anthology as the touchstone in defining black humor and examines the work of writers who exemplify the approach to comedy Friedman outlines in that book, among them Joseph Heller, Terry Southern, and Kurt Vonnegut, as well as writers more tangential to the movement whose fiction nevertheless accentuates or highlights important features of black humor fiction, such as James Purdy and Joshua Ferris. The essays attempt to delineate the identifiable characteristics of this fiction as manifested in the work of these writers, and they as well implicitly maintain both that the comic and aesthetic perspective informing black humor was shared by a remarkable number of comedically skilled writers who transformed the role of "humor" in "serious" fiction and that this perspective is by no means simply an artifact of a specific era but remains available to writers able to appreciate it.
Founded in 2004, The Reading Experience belonged to the first wave of "literary weblogs," participating with other early blogs focused on contemporary writing and publishing in creating a new online presence for serious literary discussion. I continue to maintain the blog (though less regularly) as the publishing medium for more extended reflections on current literary developments, as well as critical essays and longer reviews.
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Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism
What are the responsibilities of the literary critic? How might readers find value in literary criticism? Part 1 of this book (titled "Critical Issues") establishes the broader perspective from which to regard the literary critic's efforts; Part 2 ("Critical Failures") discusses the flawed strategies of specific critics (including prominent figures such as James Wood and Christopher Hitchens); and Part 3 ("Critical Successes") concludes with a survey of the successful strategies of the most accomplished critics, showing how criticism at its best can contribute meaningfully to the reading experience.
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Experimental Fiction Now
Postmodern Confusions: David Foster Wallace
Satire by Any Other Name: Jonathan Lethem & George Saunders
Perils of the Apocalypse
Innovative Sentences: Gary Lutz & Diane Willians Web Page
Don'ts and Do's I—Conceptualisms 39 epub
Dont's and Do's II--Dynamics of the Page 45 pdf
No Wave: 30 Under 30 Table of Contents
The Art of Disturbance: On the Novels
of James Purdy
A survey of the novels by this unduly neglected American writer, with special attention to the novels of the 1950s and 1960s.
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