Literary subversions: new American fiction and the practice by Jerome Klinkowitz

By Jerome Klinkowitz

Klinkowitz’ finished Introduc­tion presents the clearest, liveliest explo­ration so far of the technical and criti­cal advancements within the paintings of the radical over the last decades. Using quite a few techniques from po­lemic and lyric to private witness, Klinkowitz discusses John Updike, Grace Paley, Robley Wilson, Ishmael Reed, John Gardner, Thomas McGuane, John Irving, Richard Yates, John Barth, Jerzy Kosinski, Dan Wakefield, and Tom Glynn.

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Readers need new self-created definitions, "wonderful new lies, or people just aren't going to want to go on living" (p. 88). Reminding the reader that fictions are provisional realities and not bedrock truth is the essense of Vonnegut's work, his Page xxi one enduring theme and the metafictional center to each of his novels. Cat's Cradle invents a religion whose very doctrine prevents itself from being taken seriously, and describes the writing of a book which turns out to be the novel in one's hands.

To write a book covering the contemporary scene in just one of these manners would be to force a thesis, necessarily slighting the idiosyncracies of the works chosen for comment. Adapting one's critical form to the peculiarities of the text itself, however, allows those texts to speak through one's own wordsa principal aim of Literary Subversions. " 28 Here is the territory of the essay as polemic, responding to the central literary battle of our age between mimesis and artistic self-apparency.

What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time. 6 Once Vonnegut's protagonist learns this new structural sense, he is anxious to tell his countrymen the good news, for by living out of synch with the culture their lives have become disappointing and frustrating. An optometrist by profession, "he was doing nothing less now, he thought, than prescribing corrective lenses for Earthling souls. So many of those souls were lost and wretched, Billy believed, because they could not see as well as his little green friends on Tralfamadore" (p.

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