četvrtak, 14. studenoga 2013.

Electronic Book Review

Kasnih '90-ih i ranih 2000-ih, kad je Mark Amerika bio ikona, ovo je bilo kultno okupljalište za svježe teme u područjima postmoderne književnosti, novih medija, interneta itd. Sad se naravno sve usložnilo, no ebr i dalje drži korak.


Electronic Book Review (ebr) is a peer-reviewed journal of critical writing produced and published by the emergent digital literary network. Although ebr threads include essays addressing a wide range of topics across the arts, sciences, and humanities, ebr's editors are particularly interested in critically savvy, in-depth work addressing the digital future of literature, theory, criticism, and the arts.
Editor: Joseph Tabbi
Founding Publisher: Mark Amerika
International Editorial Board: Joe Amato, Kate Armstrong, Jan Baetens, Ralph Berry , Serge Bouchardon, Marc Bousquet, Stephen Burn, Dave Ciccoricco, Anna Gibbs, Brian Lennon, Timothy Melley, Dee Morris, Timothy Morton, Stuart Moulthrop, Daniel Punday, Jörgen Schäfer, Rob Swigart, Rui Torres, Phillip Wegner, Cary Wolfe, Michael Wutz

Thread: writing under constraint

Publication date: 
The count-down is complete; the line has served its time. In this spirit of millennial closure, the Winter 1999/2000 issue of ebr will be the last written under the constraint of periodical publication.


Simultaneously Reading/Writing Under/Destroyed My Life

Maria Damon reviews Alan Sondheim's Writing Under: Selections from the Internet Text in light of the literature of John Fahey to demonstrate that those texts, like her performative review of them, enact a "mastering/dismantling itch twitch" that has a "life of its own, moving through the artist in a parasitic way."


Abish's Africa

Abish's Alphabetical Africa is pondered here, in a critifiction by Louis Bury. Bury's text is written - like the novel itself - under constraint: each critical query begins with a new letter of the alphabet. Culminating in "Zeugma," the essay explores the poetics of Abish's linguistic experiment from somewhere close to the inside. (Doug Nufer's Negativeland gets a similar - though more subtle - treatment in another Bury piece.)

Absences, Negations, Voids

Examining Doug Nufer's Negativeland, a constraint-based text, Louis Bury adopts the same constraint as the novel - an approach NOT dissimilar to his treatment of Abish's Alphabetical Africa. In this case, the constraint is a prohibition against sentences lacking "some form of negation" - a commitment not unlike the affirmation of negativity.

Revolution 2: An Interview with Mark Z. Danielewski

Kiki Benzon and Mark Z. Danielewski discuss his 2006 book Only Revolutions at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.

Pinocchio's Piccolo, or, How Tristram Shandy Got It Straight: Searching in Raymond Federman's Body Shards

Michael Wutz writes of how, in Raymond Federman's My Body in Nine Parts, body parts are represented as having registered, inscribed, contributed to Federman's life.

The Riddling Effect: Rules and Unruliness in the Work of Harry Mathews

Michael Boyden reflects on the stubborn and idiosyncratic fiction of Harry Mathews and introduces a new ebr gathering of work on and by Mathews.

An Interview with Harry Mathews

Michael Boyden interviews Harry Mathews via email.

The Dialect of the Tribe

This is a reprint of Mathews' short story which originally appeared in The Human Country: New and Collected Stories (Dalkey Archive 2002).

Fearful Symmetries

Harry Mathews writes of the inherent difficulties in translation - especially the translation of his own work.

Verse in Reverse

On the occasion of the 2003 Fitzpatrick O'Dinn Award publication, Alan Sondheim asks some questions of formally constrained literature. The more strict the constraints, the more open, free, and plentiful the questions.

&Now Conference Review

Late Breaking: William Gillespie, Scott Rettberg, and Rob Wittig post from Notre Dame University on the &Now festival of writers and writing.

Nothing Less and Nothing More: The Oulipo Compendium

Alain Vuillemin comprehends the compendium - a summing up of four decades of Oulipian activity.
Translation by James Stevens

Fecal Profundity

Human waste takes center stage in Dominique Laporte's unusual microhistory, a book as valuable for the anecdotes as for its argument.

Notable American Prose

Ted Pelton reviews Ben Marcus's novel that's not one.

Tomorrow Ltd.

Thoughts on the debut novel by Alex Shakar.

The Present of Fiction

Recent fiction by Curtis White, Alex Shakar, Michael Martone, and others read through the lens of Gertrude Stein and Wittgenstein.

Unraveling the Tapestry of Califia

Jaishree K. Odin on the hyperfiction of M.D. Coverley.

Not Browsing but Reading: Magazines and Books Online

Perusing websites pertaining to literary matters, Eye magazine cites HTML's "gaptoothed rawness" as a hindance to readability in ebr (prior to the journal's redesign).

Constrained Thinking: From Network to Membrane

Paul Harris examines the theoretical aspects of constrained thinking in the age of electronic textuality (in 2000 words, natch!)

The Education of Adams (Henry) / ALAMO

Paul Braffort studies constrained writing from Henry Adams to Braffort's own ALAMO project, and presents his findings in the form of a Triolet (between 1999 and 2000 words)

Toward a General Theory of the Constraint

Bernardo Schiavetta: a definition (in 2000 words)

More Pixels to the Inch

Thomas Hartl reviews Ron Sukenick's Mosaic Man

Seeking the (Black Hole) Sun

Cynthia Davidson reviews Sex for the Millennium by Harold Jaffe


William O'Rourke on the beat of the Clinton beat

Ovid's Concrete Labyrinths

Tony D'Souza on Alex Shakar's Metamorphoses.

Nothing Less and Nothing More: The Oulipo Compendium

Alain Vuillemin comprehends the compendium - a summing up of four decades of Oulipian activity.
Translation by James Stevens

Writing Under Constraint

ebr10, a satisfyingly even number published at the turn of the millennium, seemed at the time like the right occasion for calling an end to issues altogether. In the event, we would not manage to eliminate issues until February 2002 - that palindromic month and year, as satisfying in its way as the y2k.

Mister Smathers

a short fiction by Harry Mathews

Fed Ex Un Ltd

Jan Baetens reviews the Raymond Federman Recyclopedia, a book whose humour - and evident bad taste - raise it above its own formidable constraints.

Harry Mathews's Al Gore Rhythms: A Re-viewing of Tlooth, Cigarettes, and The Journalist

Paul Harris rediscovers the senior American member of Oulipo on the occasion of three new reprints from The Dalkey Archive Press.

Alire: A Relentless Literary Investigation

Phillippe Bootz gives an account of the longest standing web-based literary journal in France.
Translation by James Stevens

An Inter(e)view with Ben Marcus

Stacey Levine on the occasion of Dalkey Archive's reprinting of The Age of Wire and String

Thread: fictions present

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Everything that happens, happens now. The essays, narratives, and essay-narratives gathered under the thread title, Fictions Present, reaffirm the 'presentist' bias in electronic publishing and in ebr particularly: our non-periodical, continuous publication is designed to keep the archive current and to present critical writing not as an afterthought, but as an integral element in the creation of literary fictions.

Thread: First Person

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The First Person thread began as a collaboration among electronic book review, MIT Press, and editors Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Since 2003 it has explored a new model for connection between online publishing and traditional edited books in which printed works are not only reproduced electronically but also substantially expanded via responses to the collection (ripostes) and enriched by incorporation into the ebr database. This thread engages and reproduces much of the contents of a trilogy of edited collections published by the MIT Press: First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media, and Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives. The ebr version is a continuation, and an occasional critique of the essays that appeared in the book series. And the scope itself will widen beyond the topics raised in the MIT print volumes to include emerging forms of fictional and playable experiences, along with new protocols, new interfaces, and possibly even new ways of drawing the boundaries between text and code, digital gaming and textual narrative.

Thread: technocapitalism

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Original introduction: Recalling that Donna Haraway's Cyborg was never meant to be a wired, blissed-out bunny, Marc Bousquet and Katherine Wills recover the political dimension in socialist-feminist thought. Their five-volume edited series, "The Politics of Information," brings class back into cultural studies, considers the Web as crucial to the expanding 'informatics of domination,' and recovers the cyborg as a key figure for an entire world of labor and

Thread: writing (post)feminism

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Postfeminism remains an awkward yet laudable movement among younger women, and women no longer young - one which embraces pluralism and homosexuality, one which expects that women are just as involved in the electronic frontier of the Web as men are.

Thread: electropoetics

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For many who are committed to working in electronic environments, an electronic "review" might better be named a "retrospective," a mere scholarly commemoration of a phenomenon that is passing. There's a technological subtext to the declining prestige of authors and literary canons. To bring that subtext to the surface will be part of ebr's agenda.

Thread: internet nation

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Postmodern politics (against the capitalist culture of postmodernity) after bosnia, kosovo, the 2001 U.S. election, 9/11, the 2004 expansion of the EU....

Thread: end construction

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After a full generation of constructivist thought, after close to a decade of Internet construction and nearly as long a period of activity at ebr/altx, we're ready to put an end to the construction of periodical issues. Instead of working within an unconsidered paradigm inherited from print media, the ebr editors intend to construct our own ends, over time and on terms that we set for ourselves (within the constraints of the web environment).

Thread: critical ecologies

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The original editors of Critical Ecologies, Joseph Tabbi and Cary Wolfe, constructed this green and grey thread “to explore convergences among natural and constructed ecosystems, green politics and grey matter, silicon chips and sand.” Texts from this period include a 2004 Joseph McElroy Festschrift that hints at the literary implications of an ecological, medial turn in literary theory. The Critical Ecologies thread will continue these explorations under the editorship of Stacy Alaimo, who encourages inquiry and debate on new materialisms, animal studies, posthumanism, and science studies.

Thread: webarts

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Like the webarts here under discussion, ebr approaches the Internet, in the first instance, as a unique art medium.

Thread: image + narrative

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Installed as a double issue starting in the winter of 96/97, contributors sought to explore through literature a transition already evident in the culture at large, where technology had enabled narratives of all types to undergo transformation by the image.

Thread: music/sound/noise

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As "sound" approaches ever more closely the condition of music it too approaches a kind of writing, which is then retroactively revealed to have been "noisy" all along.

Thread: Enfolded

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Unique among ebr 'threads,' this one is composed of essays that reside apart from ebr. The 'enfolded' essays retain their origin and identity, but they become available through the ebr interface. The resulting network of affiliated essays brings ebr a step closer to a literary semantic web, whose content can be collected, tagged, and interlinked among a consortium of federated sites.

Thread: fictions present

And the Last Shall Be the First

Ralph Clare sees the new essay collection on William Gaddis as engaging a growing reassessment of the novelist's work. Taking up the task of moving the scholarship past the postmodern theories that framed and determined it for some time, Clare argues that 'The Last of Something' turns out to be the beginning of something more. Approaches in the collection range from new forms of biographical and contextual criticism, to theories of data storage and "bare life," but the nuance and ambition of the scholarship re-asserts the relevance of Gaddis.

Of Pilgrims and Anarchists

Time to get anarchic! Ralph Clare's review of A Corrupted Pilgrim's Guide, the first scholarly take on Thomas Pynchon's 2006 Against the Day, zooms in and illuminates the novel's anarchist framework as the major claim and long-term contribution of the collection. The aesthetics and ethics of anarchism turn out to be not merely a theme in the novel's setting - the late ninetieth to early twentieth-century - but the way it impinges on our current situation.

Revealing Noise: The Conspiracy of Presence in Alternate Reality Aesthetics

Adam Pilkey argues that the ARG Year Zero's use of "revealing noise" allows and encourages the audience to help in the building of the narrative by becoming participants in a conspiracy theory within the ARG. Pilkey argues that "The Presence" found in the Nine Inch Nails album and corresponding ARG, Year Zero, symbolizes and denies a truth, which in turn provides a means that furthers the resources that constructs conspiracy theories in this alternate reality.

Review of Karin Hoepker's No Maps for These Territories: Cities, Spaces, and Archeologies of the Future in William Gibson

The good news in Alex Link's review is that Karin Hoepker's No Maps for These Territories begins the necessary work on spatiality in William Gibson's first two trilogies. Still, much remains to be done. Link points the way to a critically productive analysis built on Hoepker's opening moves.

A Video Interview with Steve Tomasula by Jhave

Steve Tomasula in Conversation with Jhave. Recorded at the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada. 2012-02-21.

Looking for Writing after Postmodernism

House of Leaves may be on everyone's shortlist of postmodern media-savvy novels, but are we ready for a retrospective collection of essays on Mark Z. Danielewski? According to Daniel Punday's review, Joe Bray and Alison Gibbons' collection says as much about the current state of (post) postmodernist writing as it does about Danielewski's scant oeuvre.

“You’ve never experienced a novel like this”: Time and Interaction when reading TOC

Steve Tomasula's TOC is hard to explain, according to Alison Gibbons. You're better off experiencing it in all its multimodal and multimedial complexity. Using human computer interaction and narrative theory, Gibbons shows that the emergent, singular, fractured temporality of reading TOC raises the bar for the new media book.

Flatland in VAS

Lila Marz Harper shows the many dimensions of intertextuality between Edwin Abbott's Flatland and Steve Tomasula's VAS. From typography to narratology, Tomasula's "opera in flatland" follows Abbott, in a geometry of fiction that interrogates the biopolitics of today.

Tech-TOC: Complex Temporalities in Living and Technical Beings

Katherine Hayles uses Steve Tomasula's multimodal TOC for a significant engagement with the temporal processuality of complex technical beings. Drawing on Bergon's "duration" and its elaboration in recent theories of technicity and consciousness, Hayles explores the complex temporal enfoldings of living and technical beings, showing that Tomasula's new media novel narrates and materially embodies such assemblages.

Languages of Fear in Steve Tomasula’s VAS, an Opera in Flatland

Is literature a medium for handling our fears? Anne-Laure Tissut argues that the polysemous multimedial procedures of Steve Tomasula's VAS collapse body and text in a way that both amplifies and cushions fears of mortality, instability, and otherness.

Pierre Menard with a Pipette: VAS and the Body of Text

Like a text whose every rewriting is a reinterpretation, the body changes each time its "naturalness" is re-articulated anew. This is the spiraling history traced by Steve Tomasula’s VAS, which depicts the body, according to Alex Link, as "the place where cultural work is naturalized, and where the natural is worked."

The Latest Word

Can a corporate-dominated Web become an environment conducive to literary activity? The novelist, essayist, and cultural critic Curtis White is skeptical. Responding to criticisms of his account of the devolution of literary publishing and reflecting on the prevalence of market-driven values in online exchanges, White doubts whether literature can distinguish itself in the noisy new media ecology, which he likens to a high-tech prison house.

New Media: Its Utility and Liability for Literature and for Life

This formulation by Joseph Tabbi is being reprinted with permission from the University of Minnesota Press's remixthebook. The original online version can be found here: http://www.remixthebook.com/new-media-its-utility-and-liability-for-lite...

"Is this for real? Is that a stupid question?": A Review of Dennis Cooper's The Sluts

Dennis Cooper's disorienting novel, The Sluts, complicates reader expectations about subjectivity and identity. As a result, Megan Milks notes that it "is either the most honest or the most dishonest literature I have come across."

Epic at the End of Empire

In The American Epic Novel, Gilbert Adair presents a "State-of-the-Empire address" that interrogates the epical form in a time where authors no longer talk of writing "The Great American Novel." As Joseph Tabbi finds, such an exploration goes beyond expanding the canon and presents "a new, compelling context for 'the literary' itself."

Due Diligence

Too much about too little, and too little about too much. Reviewing the new critical collection Against the Grain: Reading Pynchon's Counternarratives, this critic finds evidence of overproduction in the "Pyndustry."

A Review of Brian Lennon's In Babel's Shadow: Multilingual Literatures, Monolingual States

Literature joins the living dead. A critic illuminates Brian Lennon's "scene" of literature today: both suspended and emergent in the world system.

How to Fail (at) Fiction and Influence Everybody: A Review of Penthouse-F by Richard Kalich

Richard Kalich's latest protagonist is Richard Kalich, but one critic views this postmodern occupation of the novel as an opportunity - even an encouragement - to forget about him.

Late Light in the House of Sounds: Joseph McElroy's Night Soul and Other Stories

Gregg Biglieri offers some advice on reading McElroy: jettison one's habitual grammars and adopt the grammars of time and timing. Become an expert in sound. Become all ear.

Hysteria and Democracy: Exfoliating Difference in Lynne Tillman's American Genius, A Comedy

Citing the narrator's radical ambivalence about time, history, and the flesh, Maureen Curtin argues that American Genius, A Comedy represents the hysteria of the contemporary "post-political" moment.

How to Write the Present Without Irony: Immanent Critique in Lynne Tillman's American Genius, A Comedy

Contrasting Lynne Tillman's text with the "complicitous critique" of Donald Barthelme and other postmodern ironists, Sue-Im Lee argues that Tillman's narration displays the "mobility" of Adornian cultural criticism, in which contradiction is not a problem but a mode of interrogating the present.

Lynne Tillman and the Great American Novel

Most recent "Great American Novels" are not great, but merely big. Lynne Tillman's American Genius, A Comedy, by contrast, is designed with scale, not size, in mind. So argues Kasia Boddy, who reads the novel as a critical engagement with book reviewers' favorite cliché for ambitious social fiction. Instead of resisting cultural obsolescence through sheer assertion, Tillman's book examines how the cracks and contradictions of American ideology have imprinted themselves on the individual body, bearer of the national disease: sensitivity.

Skin Deep: Lynne Tillman's American Genius, A Comedy

"Like skin, the comma both connects and divides." Peter Nicholls traces Tillman's endlessly subordinating, endlessly equivocating sentences, showing how their quest for historical and social clarity passes through an interminable sequence of deferral and denial.


How does one write science fiction when the atom bomb (and later 9/11) makes the future seem impossible to predict? Justin Roby reviews Paul Youngquist's Cyberfiction: After the Future, which explores how postwar "cy-fi" critiqued life in the age of cybernetic control systems.

Going Up, Falling Down

Can the rising cost of cosmopolitan real estate have brought the New York City novel to a low point? Tom LeClair measures recent fictions from and about New York City - including three "9/11 novels" - against the Systems Novel of the mid-1970s.

Lydia Davis Interviews Lynne Tillman

Two innovative contemporary writers discuss the relationship between encyclopedic narrative and notions of gender and writing, the body as the physical embodiment of memory, and the unique syntax of Tillman's American Genius, a Comedy. The novel's prose depicts the way "thought, when you're not thinking, happens."

"Essential Reading": A Review of Daniel Punday's Five Strands of Fictionality

Anthony Warde traces Daniel Punday's analysis of the intertwining strands of contemporary "fictionality," the different modes - from "myth" to "assemblage" - by which invented stories are legitimated. Punday's work implies that the active construction of 'life-fictions' is becoming more significant in contemporary technoculture, a view that runs counter to the more pessimistic view of agency in Baudrillard's Simulacrum America and other accounts of a wholly 'virtual' reality.

David Shields' Reality Hunger: A Manifesto: A Review in the Form of a Memoir

David Shields is hungry, but not hungry enough. So says Curtis White, who argues that by ignoring anti-realism's past and present, Shields writes as if "New York" and "now" are the only contexts that matter.

Cognition Against Narrative: Six Essays on Contemporary Cognitive Fiction

In his introduction to the Cognitive Fictions cluster, Joseph Tabbi suggests that reflexive, non-narrative literature plays a critical role in the new media ecology. Postmodernist writing by Joseph McElroy and Italo Calvino, the posthumanist thought of Cary Wolfe, and the emerging forms of electronic literature each occupy a position between narrative modes of consciousness and "object-oriented" computer and cognitive science.

Water on Us

Excerpted from a forthcoming nonfiction book on water, Joseph McElroy's essay ponders (among other questions) the relationship between the physical waters of the world and brain and the phenomenal waters of the mind. "I meant to ask, 'What has water to say on the subject of us?" - i.e., on its own without prompting? Dumb question, it tells me."

The Binding Problem

Minds bind - make coherent meaning from distributed processes - and narratives do, too.
The means by which they do so remains a mystery, however. Kiki Benzon suggests that this mystery is at the heart of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, a text whose layered structure, typographical blending, and central metaphor - a house much bigger than the sum of its parts - enact the problem of binding on multiple levels.

Phantasmal Fictions

D. Fox Harrell considers how a media theory of the "phantasmal" - mental image and ideological construction - can be used to cover gaps within electronic literary practice and criticism. His perspective is shaped by cognitive semantics and the approach to meaning-making known as "conceptual blending theory."

Fictions of the Visual Cortex

Stephen Burn connects Don DeLillo's fifteenth novel, Point Omega, with the author's long-running investigation into the structures of the mind. Using an elusive narrative architecture, images from a slowed-down film, and moments of second- and third-order observation, the novel dramatizes the mind's pre-conscious fiction-making processes.

Liquid Ontology

In this review-essay, James J. Pulizzi reads Joseph McElroy's 1977 novel, Plus,
as a Bildungsroman for the posthuman: instead of tracing the development of a subject, the novel traces the development of processes that call the very idea of a subject into question. As a human brain adjusts to its new housing in an experimental satellite, the text unfolds in a series of re-entries and re-mappings, an unfolding that necessarily implicates the reader.

Tillman's Turbulent Thinking

Eric Dean Rasmussen explores Lynne Tillman's "cognitive aesthetic," suggesting that her work is powered by the generative disconnect between asignifying affect and signifying emotion. He argues that her 1998 novel, No Lease on Life, examines the role of affectively sustained universal values in responding politically to the neoliberal city.

Gaming the System

In the wake of massive shifts in the function and purview of the University in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Brian Lennon considers two recent texts on the system of higher educational institutions and the academic practices that supports it.

Review of A Companion to Digital Literary Studies

Scott Hermanson considers the Companion's success in negotiating its own position between digital literature and print media.

Tom LeClair's Passing Trilogy: Recovering Adventure in the Age of Post-Genre

Surveying the decline of adventure as a culturally relevant theme, Steffen Hantke argues that Tom LeClair's Passing Trilogy finds new ways of revalidating adventure for a millennial world of bourgeois security and moderation.

Senseless Resistances: Feeling the Friction in Fiction

Eric Dean Rasmussen introduces a gathering of twelve essays on literary resistances that imagine how a materially engaged and affectively attuned literary culture might play a more transformative role in the emergent network society.

Intensifying Affect

Marco Abel reads recent affect theory and suggests, via discussions of fiction by Don DeLillo, Brian Evenson, and Cormac McCarthy, how literature can cultivate the reader's receptivity to these pre-subjective bodily forces.

A Language of the Ordinary, or the eLEET?

Dave Ciccoricco reviews Michael Joyce's novel of network culture, Was.
Seeing an inversion of Russian formalism in Joyce's work, Ciccoricco explores how Joyce's novel attempts to "reconcile the polylinguistic, stylistic, and ludic difficulty" of the text with an "affinity for the

Brain Drain Against the Grain: A Report on the International Pynchon Week 2008

Bruno Arich-Gerz reports from Munich on International Pynchon Week, 2008. Finding a retreat to traditional reading strategies, Arich-Gerz wonders whether we have lost more than we gained in the turn against theory.

The Novel at the Center of the World

John Limon surveys the boundaries of the global novel in this review of John Newman's The Fountain at the Center of the World and Naomi Klein's Fences and Windows. Limon traces the trajectory of plot, character, and argument in the genre, as he reads "perhaps the first great global novel."

Postmodernism Redux

Stephen Schryer contrasts narratological and postsecular readings of postmodernism in a review of Gerhard Hoffmann's vast study, From Modernsism to Postmodernism (2005), and John McClure's narrower but more pointed exploration, Partial Faiths (2007).

Paranoid Modernity and the Diagnostics of Cultural Theory

A review of John Farrell's magnificent Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau, in light of contemporary literary criticism: Where Brian McHale declares an end to postmodernism, and where many discount paranoia as a passing literary interest, reviewer Tim Melley sees postmodern paranoia everywhere. As long as corporations are regarded by law as 'individuals' and conspiracy is the preferred way of understanding political and social systems, it seems that we'll remain in the longue duree of the postmodern moment.

Devoted to Fake

Brian Willems reads a number of fictional and critical texts, from ebr essays to William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, to argue that they all point toward the dissolution of the borders among humans, animals, and machines.

Middle Spaces: Media and the Ethics of Infinitely Demanding

Simon Critchley's study of ethics has been prominently reviewed by literary and cultural theorists, though most treatments accept the premise that ethical relations are primarily among people, that ethics depends mainly on intersubjective relations. This review by Daniel Punday resituates "Infinitely Demanding" in a networked context, one that is constructed by "media, by global flows, and by the larger network swarms which themselves take on an identity." For Punday, an ethics for our time is best found, not by the study of identities and localities, but rather by authors of contemporary fiction such as Jonathan Letham, Susan Daitch, Ishmael Reed, and Toni Cade Bambara.

Utopia's Doubles

Nichoas Spencer argues for the importance of "anarchistic and spatial factors" in twentieth-century utopian thought despite the resistance to them in the Marxist texts under review by Brown, DeKoven, Jameson, and Puchner.

Home: A Conversation with Richard Powers and Tom LeClair

Scott Hermanson presents a dialogue he conducted with novelists Richard Powers and Tom LeClair, at the University of Cincinnati in 2005. Moderated by Hermanson, the novelists discuss the intricacies of writing about nature, the role of history in the novel, and their fictions' use of imitative form.

Parasitic Fiction

Stephen Burn considers Tom LeClair's recent novel through the lens of the latter's own critical work on postmodern fiction, while also excavating the novel's relation to Faulkner's tale of racial empire building, Absalom, Absalom!

Electronic Media, Identity Politics, and the Rhetoric of Obsolescence

Anthony Enns questions Kathleen Fitzpatrick's link between an anxiety about the displacement of male privilige and the fear of new media technology in postmodern fiction.

Nothing Lasts

In "Nothing Lasts," Stephen Schryer considers Tom LeClair's Passing On and The Liquidators as paired novels, one immersing the reader in the maelstrom of the social and economic systems that shape contemporary life, the other shielding the reader from those systems. Unlike the massive novels from the seventies that fascinated LeClair the critic, Schryer finds the novelist a "literary miniaturist," seeking "concise synecdoches for the larger systems" his books evoke.

"A realm forever beyond reach": William Vollmann's Expelled from Eden and Poor People

Jeff Bursey argues for a coherent, if unlikely, set of predecessors for William T. Vollmann: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Blaise Cendrars, and John Cowper Powys. In the process of tracing this genealogy, Bursey defends Vollmann against critics who attack his alleged objectification of his subjects - prostitutes, the poor, and victims of violence.

Black Postmodernism

Amy J. Elias reviews Madhu Dubey's second book Signs and Cities: Black Literary Postmodernism and gauges the argument that we can locate within literary history a distinctive African American strain of postmodernism.

What Was Postmodernism?

Brian McHale looks back on the movement in "What Was Postmodernism?" He contrasts postmodernism's canonization with critical constructions of modernism, and moves through contemporary painting to reflect on intersections between the violence of recent history and postmodernism, as the postwar world lived "in the ruins of our own civilization, if only in our imaginations."

Plagiarism, Creativity, and the Communal Politics of Renewal

As Christian Moraru argues here that the new is still the objective in contemporary writing. But writers and artists make it by making it anew rather than new ("Get it used," Andrei Codrescu invites us), a new not so much novel as renovated, reframed and reproduced rather than produced, which by the same token redefines and advertises authorship as deliberate plagiarism.


Rob Swigart's "Seeking" is a clever and funny story whose roots lie in the materialization of internet interdating connections. Moving through the technological and media reductions of desire, Swigart parallels the overarching theme of "seeking" with a form that is itself punctuated with questions.

Geek Love Is All You Need

Steven Shaviro reviews Shelley Jackson's Half Life, the first print-based novel by a pioneering hypertextualist.

Fictions Present

Joseph Tabbi introduces the thread and gathers prior essays by fiction writers on fiction writing.

Long Talking Bad Conditions Illinois Blues: A Report on &Now, A Festival of Innovative Writing and Art

Ted Pelton writes an in-depth account not just of the &Now Conference at Lake Forest College but of the state of experimental writers and small press publishing.

Life Sentences for the New America

Tim Keane reviews David Matlin's Prisons: Inside the New America.


"Dispersion" is a short-story by Rob Swigart.

The Eternal Hourglass of Existence

Sascha Pöhlmann reviews Lance Olsen's 2006 novel Nietzsche's Kisses.

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