An Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction

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Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, Cormac McCarthy, Rolando Hinojosa, E. Annie Proulx, Bret Easton Ellis, Douglas Coupland, and Thomas Pynchon: An Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction introduces the work of a range of key American authors, all of whom can be said to engage with postmodernism. Exploring the vitality and energy of contemporary writing in light of pessimistic proclamations on the state of postmodern American culture, Bilton highlights the tension between "realistic" description and linguistic self-consciousness in contemporary fiction.

In addition, by addressing a central problem in literary theory—its neglect of literary discussion and the practice of reading—An Introduction to Contemporary American Fiction is able to present a working model for reading a text theoretically.

As an introductory text, it assumes no prior knowledge of the authors of the novels discussed. To encourage understanding and aid further study, the following features are included:


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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bilton offers a critical but accessible introduction to postmodernism in America, surveying the selected works of eight contemporary writers. . . . This is an intriguing if eclectic mix of authors."

-Library Journal

"A welcome addition to the often-bloated scholarship on literary postmodernism. . . . Bilton's command of the fiction and scholarship is impressive."


Library Journal
British scholar Bilton (American studies, Univ. of Wales, Swansea) offers a critical but accessible introduction to postmodernism in America, surveying the selected works of eight contemporary writers: Don DeLillo (Underworld), Paul Auster (the "New York" trilogy), Cormac McCarthy (the "Border" trilogy), Rolando Hinojosa (The Valley), E. Annie Proulx (The Shipping News), Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), Douglas Coupland (Generation X) and Thomas Pynchon (Mason & Dixon). This is an intriguing if eclectic mix of authors-all of whom, according to Bilton, engage with the postmodern condition-but the book's title is somewhat misleading as it doesn't reflect Coupland's status as a Canadian. Included are a short glossary of critical and literary terms, biographies and bibliographies, interviews, thematic links between the covered writers and lists of useful web sites for further reading. The chapter on Auster is particularly strong, while the brief chapter on Pynchon-which consists of little more than an uncharacteristically poor critical essay-seems tacked on. A fully formed chapter including commentary on The Crying of Lot 49 would have been more appropriate for an introductory work aimed at undergraduates. This is an optional purchase, though academic libraries supporting coursework in postmodern literature might consider.-William D. Walsh, Chester Coll. of New England, NH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814799123
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Bilton is Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Wales, Swansea, and editor of The American 1920s: Literary Sources and Documents.

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Table of Contents

Short Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms
Introduction 1
Don DeLillo 17
Paul Auster 51
Cormac McCarthy 94
Rolando Hinojosa 139
E. Annie Proulx 164
Bret Easton Ellis 195
Douglas Coupland 220
Conclusion: Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon 240
Bibliography 247
Thematic Index 249
Index by Author 253
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