Contemporary Novelists and the Aesthetics of Twenty-First Century American Life gives us a new way to view contemporary art novels, asking the key question: How do contemporary writers imagine aesthetic experience? Examining the works of some of the most popular names in contemporary fiction and art criticism, including Zadie Smith, Teju Cole, Siri Hustvedt, Ben Lerner, Rachel Kushner, and others, Alexandra Kingston-Reese finds that contemporary art novels are seeking to reconcile the negative feelings of contemporary life through a concerted critical realignment in understanding artistic sensibility, literary form, and the function of the aesthetic.
Kingston-Reese reveals how contemporary writers refract and problematize aesthetic experience, illuminating an uneasiness with failure: firstly, about the failure of aesthetic experiences to solve and save; and secondly, the literary inability to articulate the emotional dissonance caused by aesthetic experiences now.
About the Author
Alexandra Kingston-Reese is a lecturer in modern and contemporary literature at the University of York.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Aesthetics of Contemporary American Life 1
Chapter 1 Enstrangement 31
Chapter 2 Slant Rhyme 57
Chapter 3 Synesthesia 91
Chapter 4 Transcription 109
Chapter 5 Suspension 134
Afterword: Politics of Aesthetic Experience Now 167
Works Cited 179
What People are Saying About This
“This striking, intellectually bracing book shows how contemporary writers are engaging with the politics of visual aesthetics in order to rethink the very anatomy of the novel form. Alexandra Kingston-Reese presents a scrupulously researched argument about interartistic dynamics in twenty-first century literary culture that enriches the critical practice of reading for intermediality."—David James, author, Modernist Futures: Innovation and Inheritance in the Contemporary Novel