Saturday, January 14, 2017

"They Spring from Four Strategies of Approaching the Problem of Authenticity"

"First, autofiction: narratives that appear to do away with much of fiction's familiar scaffolding — plots, scene-setting, the development of characters other than the hero; that eschew familiar modes of storytelling in favor of the diary entry, the transcript, or the essayistic digression; and that collapse the distance between the hero-narrator and the authorial persona by investigating that dual figure's claims to authenticity. Second, fables of meritocracy, often satiric: social novels and comedies of manners in which higher education and its professional aftermath are both crucibles that allow characters to reveal their authentic selves and alienating systems that strip them of their native identities. Third, many historical novels have been set in the near past, locating in recent decades the romantic grit and violence their nostalgic authors find lacking in the sterile present. And, fourth, a set of narratives have placed the experience of trauma—rape, pedophilia, homophobic abuse, incarceration, the horrors of war—at their center, where it assumes an animating role: Suffering bestows meaning on an otherwise comfortable world."

Christian Lorentzen in New York explores "the Novel in the Age of Obama."

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