timothy bewes is professor of English at Brown University and associate editor of Novel: A Forum on Fiction. His books include Cynicism and Postmodernity (1997), Reification, or The Anxiety of Late Capitalism (2002), and The Event of Postcolonial Shame (2011). He is completing a book on contemporary experimental fiction.
Just when the political stakes of truth and falsity in the United States seem to be higher than ever, many American writers are exploring a conceptual space located “on the very edge of fiction,” as one author puts it. Are such strategies still readable in ideological terms, or are they better understood as a loss of the critical standpoint from which ideological reading might take place? This article outlines the need for a critical practice capable of meeting the formal and ideological challenges of contemporary American fiction and takes the first steps toward imagining such a practice.