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Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

COLLECTED ESSAYS ON LITERATURE AND CRITICISM:

EFN2

EXPERIMENTAL FICTION NOW


  • A survey of current writers whose work might be called "experimental." Includes a prefatory discussion defining terms, as well as essays on David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Gary Lutz, Ben Marcus, Mark Danielewski, John Keene, Shelley Jackson, Steve Tomasula, more than a dozen others.
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INNOVATIVE WOMEN WRITERS


  • "I offer here no overarching theory about the nature or direction of innovative writing by women writers, although as I do note in several of the essays in the first section, there is a recognizable affinity among numerous current writers for what I am here calling 'fabulation.'" Includes essays on Rikki Ducornet, Aimee Bender, Noy Holland, Helen DeWitt, Eimear McBride, more than a dozen others.
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APF (2)

AMERICAN POSTMODERN FICTION


  • "Although the term has come to identify a general attitude toward traditional intellectual assumptions or, more specifically, discernibly related practices in philosophy, the social sciences, and all of the arts, "postmodern" was originally a critical label attached to an emergent group of American fiction writers perceived to be challenging established literary convention."
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Realisms

REALISMS

BSS

BETWEEN SILLINESS AND SATIRE:BLACK HUMOR FICTION


  • In the early to mid 1960s, an iconoclastic mode of American fiction that came to be called "black humor" presaged the larger movement succeeding it that eventually came to be known as postmodernism. This volume looks at the essential features of black humor fiction, with essays on all the major black humorists: Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern, and more.
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MANY WINDOWS: ON EXPERIMENTAL FICTION


  • Is a work of experimental fiction really an experiment? What was metafiction? Experimental fiction and tradition. New Romancers. Poetic structures. Fiction as performance. Varieties of experimental fiction.
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Angle

A WIDER ANGLE: AMERICAN FICTION AT THE PERIPHERY


  • Beyond the major publishers’ seasonal lists to out-of-the-way presses and lesser-known writers.
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« Sleep Disorder | Main | Thresholds »

06/13/2005

Comments

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Matt

Would you happen to know at what bookstore I'd be able to pick up a copy of Bookforum? Thanks.

Gerald Howard

I am the author of the Pynchon piece you discuss. If one has to be disagreed with, it is good to have it done so intelligently and thoughtfully. I do have a couple of comments.

For one thing, while I agree that "first growth postmodernism" was hardly full of direct social crtique and intent, it was far from being all free aesthetic play. Let me begin by quoting a letter from my pal Peter Kaldheim that got cut from the essay for space reasons: "I remember having the sense that I was in touch with a sort of Underground Resistance, a sub rosa opposition movement springing up in the imagination of writers who were as tired of the status quo in America as I was . . . The fiction being written by these innovative writers was one product of America that I could embrace without feeling shabby or misled or condescended to, and as the war in Vietnam finally ended and the postwar economy went into a tailspin, it was a comfort to have at least SOMETHING to make you proud to be an American." Indeed. The new techniques and attitudes that informed this fiction was intended, and taken by the likes of us, to be a critique of consensus reality and the grotesqueness and corruption of American life. Okay, nobody will ever take Donald Barthelme for a social critic, but his stance toward life was immensely attractive to the spiritually disaffiliated.

Beyond that, I think you forget how explicitly critical and radical some of that literature was. To cite two conspicuous examples, William Gaddis's JR and Robert Coover's THE PUBLIC BURNING, both searing send-ups of the American system. Don DeLillo's END ZONE took an ironic stance toward the American way of total war,while Ishmael Reed's burlesques were fully engaged with the racial politics of the time. GRAVITY'S RAINBOW was taken by us, and really was the acme of this critical tendency in American postmodernism, and its sense of humor, which derives from the black humorists of the early sixties, was immensely liberating.

Beyond this, I'll just say that when I called GR a product of the cold war, I was only trying to explain why my younger colleagues seemed somehwat unaware of or indifferent to it. Me, I think it is built to last, and if it has dated, well, so has MOBY DICK.

Dan Green

Gerald: Thanks for responding to my post. Although I do disagree with some of what you say in your essay, I nevertheless still found it an equally intelligent and thoughful piece. JR and The Public Burning are definitely novels engaged in social/political criticism, but I do think The Public Burning is unusual in the context of the rest of Coover's work in its explicit political critique (which also is consistent with other concerns Coover's fiction habitually treats--the influence of myth and spectacle, etc.) I also think it would be a mistake to reduce JR to merely a "social" novel. There's more going on there than political satire.

Jonathan

I just picked up that copy of Bookforum.

I don't know whether Gerald was referring, whether self-consciously or sub-consciously, to

"The pure products
of America
go crazy..."

Pure in the sense of only being possible in these particular circumstances.

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THE ART OF DISTURBANCE: THE NOVELS OF JAMES PURDY

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THE LITERARY SPHERE: TAKING CRITICISM ONLINE


  • "In this volume I have included most of my substantial posts on the blog as medium, as well as literary culture online in general. . .They are presented in chronological order, from 2004 to 2019. I have chosen this arrangement because it shows the development of my thinking about online literary criticism and because it may perhaps be interesting for readers to survey the issues that arose as literary blogging itself developed. "
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THE IDEA OF LITERATURE


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LITERARY AESTHETICS

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LITERATURE IN THE UNIVERSITY


  • Inventing Literature. Performing Literature. Reading Literature. Theorizing Literature. Historicizing Litera- ture. Relinquishing Literature. Reclaiming Literature?
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  • A collection of essays considering the current state of general-interest book reviewing. Topics include: negative vs. positive reviewing, gatekeeping, writers reviewing writers, and criticism in cyberspace, among others.
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