Postmodernism in Pieces and Lyrical Strategies, two valuable new studies of American fiction, are quite different—in approach and methodology, in the novels they address, in the shibboleths they want to challenge—but they are united in their attempt to shake up our engrained habits when reading twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction. The conclusions each author draws differ in part because of the contrasting critical orientations they bring to bear on the same broad field. More invested in the philosophical and culturalist branches of literary theory, Matthew Mullins reimagines postmodernist fiction as “a resolutely materialist aesthetic,” deeply concerned with everyday objects, the social realm, and the interactions between the two (3). Katie Owens-Murphy’s more formalist approach provides a new way to understand the rhetorical devices and stylistic challenges of modernist and contemporary fiction by arguing that twentieth-century American novels have “far more in common with lyric poems than with their novelistic predecessors”...
Postmodernism in Pieces: Materializing the Social in U.S. Fiction
Lyrical Strategies: The Poetics of the Twentieth-Century American Novel
Andrew Epstein is a professor of English at Florida State University and is the author of Attention Equals Life: The Pursuit of the Everyday in Contemporary Poetry and Culture (2016) and Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry (2006). His essays and reviews have appeared in Contemporary Literature, American Literary History, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Modern Philology, and many other journals.
Andrew Epstein; Postmodernism in Pieces: Materializing the Social in U.S. Fiction
Lyrical Strategies: The Poetics of the Twentieth-Century American Novel. American Literature 1 December 2020; 92 (4): 815–817. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-8781055
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