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The New American Novel of Manners: The Fiction of Richard Yates, Dan Wakefield, and Thomas McGuane

The New American Novel of Manners: The Fiction of Richard Yates, Dan Wakefield, and Thomas McGuane

by Jerome Klinkowitz


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In the 1960s, as the underpinnings of society weakened, the traditional novel form seemed less suited to describe American reality. Theorists groped towards non-mimetic fiction as the tools that had sustained the novel since its birth—coherent characterization, linear plot, symbolism—became tools of New Journalism. The New American Novel of Manners explores the virtual reinvention of the novel of manners in America out of the same subjectivity that charged the works of New Journalism.

In place of the rigid social structures that never seemed to depict America, novelists such as Richard Yates, Dan Wakefield, and Thomas McGuane located America’s modern-day manners in its semiotics, in the system of signs that envelops us—the blue jeans people wear, the fast food they eat, the décor of the bars they drink in and the rock-and-roll lyrics that play through memories. The new generation of mannerists describe lifestyles that are determined by words and images, by actions that are dictated by what has been read and seen, and patterns of behavior in which life is edited and fictionalized. Klinkowitz reveals a fiction that is once again capable of reflecting the way people live.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820339429
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 02/28/2012
Pages: 190
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

JEROME KLINKOWITZ is University Distinguished Scholar and Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author or editor of many books on postwar culture and literature, among them Structuring the Void: The Struggle for Subject in Contemporary American Fiction, Slaughterhouse-Five: Reforming the Novel and the World, and The Practice of Fiction in America: Writers from Hawthorne to the Present.

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