Reprising the Impossible to Explain

As promised, here’s part 2 of John Domini’s essay, “Against the ‘Impossible to Explain': The Postmodern Novel and Society.” And here’s a quote:

An identifying trait for postmodern art would be its subversion of “metanarrative.” That last word applies to the great majority of novels since Samuel Richardson, in 1758, launched the form’s halcyon moment with Pamela. That book’s metanarrative makes Pamela correspondent with her status group, her times; if she can keep her virtue then so may her society. Tom Wolfe’s metanarrative, his Beast, would be much the same–but he never questioned his central assumption. He never doubts that a novelist can know just what his life and times are up to. Martone’s Martone, in large part because it’s loaded with Americana, raises the question. It’s a clown-wagon, and every painted face against the windows presents an unsettling doppleganger. Which history can we trust?

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Explaining the Difficult-to-Explain We’re serializing John Domini’s essay “Against the ‘Impossible to Explain': The Postmodern Novel and Society” in two parts, the first of which has just been...
  2. Michael Martone Interview at The Quarterly Conversation We just published an interview with Michael Martone, creator of delightful experimental fictions. I think most people who read this blog know Martone, but for...
  3. Back Copy Dan Green finds a book’s back copy pointless. Does a serious reader really make a decision to read or not to read based on blurbs...
  4. Review Space John Freeman over at Critical Mass makes a good point about shrinking review space. At 700 words, if that, most reviews have room for a...
  5. Top 10 Books of 2004: #7 #7 — City of Glass — Paul Auster For me, Paul Auster was one of those thrilling events that are precious because they make you...

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