Postmodernist Fiction

Here we have a few observations on postmodernist fiction to digest with postmodernist coffee while we contemplate postmodernist search engines.  Postmodernist fiction will do that!

This is a typical postmodern piece of fiction called WILLIE MASTERS’ LONESOME WIFE by William H. Gass.  It seems to me that, while critical opinion is kind of divided over Gass’ fiction, the brilliance of his essays is almost universally agreed upon.  (I believe he had to write, and publish, his essays as part of his tenure obligations.  He was a professor of philosophy.)  In the main his shtick is the worship of language.  The essay that kicks off his great collection A TEMPLE OF TEXTS , “To A Young Friend Charged with Possession of the Classics,” is a fair representative example.

William H. Gass | Postmodernist Fiction
William H. Gass | Postmodernist Fiction

This is a picture of William H. Gass.  You will notice that the shot uses a strategy employed in countless photographs on down through the ages – he is photographed in front of bookcases holding hundreds and hundreds of books.  This is always done by writers who are desperate to show you what IMPRESSIVE INTELLECTUALS they are and how many great books THEY HAVE READ.  My personal suggestion is to go the other way – the way, let’s say, illustrated by the story told in Nassim Taleb’s book THE BLACK SWAN about Italo Calvino’s grand library.

This is a still from the credit sequence of Antonioni’s film LA NOTTE.  In this film you will find a shot that is meant to be a savage parody of the type of bookcase shot we see Gass in above.  (I can’t find a still of it on the web and I’m too lazy to try and scroll through my disc of the picture to find it, then take a picture of it, then upload it, yacka yacka yacka – but believe me, it’s there.)  In the movie the intellectual novelist Pontano (Marcello Mastroianni) has been revealed as an emotional cripple, a feelings-illiterate empty suit, and at the exact moment we realize this is what he is he is photographed…in front of a huge bookcase full of books!  Point made.

la notte | Postmodernist Fiction
This is Peter Quinones, author of COMET FOX.  No bookcases!
Click here to read about Postmodernism in Literature