Contemporary American Writing

By | August 31, 2011

After yesterday’s Michael Ondaatje post, I thought it would be good to stick with the theme of contemporary writing from North America by telling you about a couple of other new titles we’ve just published.

Contemporary American fiction is something of a speciality of ours here at Continuum and  I posted earlier in the year about our great new series Continuum Studies in Contemporary North American Fiction. Following on from volumes on Margaret Atwood, Bret Easton Ellis, Don DeLillo, Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy, comes our latest book in the series on Louise Erdrich, one of the most important Native American writers at work today. As with the other books in the series, this one brings together a team of leading scholars to explore three of Erdrich’s post-1990 novels: Tracks, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse and The Plague of Doves. The result is a fascinating, wide-ranging survey of current critical writing on Erdrich and, in covering such topics as Native American culture and history, gender, sexuality and race, it's an important read for anyone working in or interested in contemporary literature more generally. You can access a free preview of the book via the ‘widget’ above or you can find out more information here.

And, warming to my theme, I also suggest checking out Kurt Vonnegut and the American Novel by Robert T. Tally Jr, of Texas State University, USA. Vonnegut’s an intriguing writer and an often perplexing one but in this study Tally argues that he is less the postmodernist he is often painted as than he is a thoroughly modernist writer in his attempts to create a coherent picture of late 20th Century American life.

Susan Farrell, Professor of English at the University of Charleston, USA says of the book: “Arguing persuasively that Vonnegut is a “reluctant postmodernist,” a “misanthropic humanist” with modernist longings, Tally situates his readings of Vonnegut’s fourteen novels amid recent critical debates about American literature, about postmodernism, and about what it means to be a human being. The book is that rarest of academic works, at once critically well-informed and eminently readable.”

You can find further information on the book here. At the risk of bringing the tone down, the cover of the book is great too, based as it is on an original Vonnegut drawing. I think it's worth clicking the link for that alone!

Happy reading!
David

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