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?