Excerpt from The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors by Laura Miller, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors

by Laura Miller

The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors by Laura Miller
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Aug 2000, 512 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The question of how contemporary fiction should deal with mass culture was explicitly taken up by an heir to the encyclopedic tradition, the young novelist David Foster Wallace, in "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction," as essay published in the Review of Contemporary Fiction in 1993. Wallace describes a new generation of "Image-Fiction" writers so acclimated to the mass media that they "use the transient received myths of popular culture as a world in which to imagine fictions about Ôreal,' albeit pop-mediated characters." (Mark Leyner, one of these writers, produces fiction that incorporates influences ranging from ad copy to scientific treatises, in what Wallace describes as "witty, erudite, extremely high-quality prose television.") Wallace then questions the "irony and ridicule" deployed by these writers because, he claims, television is already ironic about itself, and thus the medium has deftly co-opted its would-be satirists. "Television . . . has become able to capture and neutralize any attempt to change or even protest the attitudes of passive unease and cynicism that television requires," Wallace maintains. He ends by calling for sincerity and for novelists who "treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction."

Most (if not quite all) of the authors covered in this book consider themselves to be aiming for something like that, whether they deal with life in the United States or in Nigeria, whether they write complicated, brainy epics or quiet domestic dramas, whether they take as their subjects urgent political situations or eternal metaphysical quandaries. It's conventional to bemoan the fact that the novelists of 2000 mean less to their society than the novelists of 1960 meant to theirs, but the literary landscape I explored in the process of editing this book also seems much richer and more varied than the one obtained forty years ago. Readers themselves--from Oprah Winfrey to the organizers of the private reading groups that have proliferated across the nation to the participants in Internet discussion groups like Salon.com's Table Talk community--are increasingly determining which are the "important" books from a staggering array of new titles published each year, based on criteria that often defy the literary establishment's. These are tough times for publishers and perhaps for authors as well, but for readers an abundance of voices and stories await at local (and virtual) bookstores. The red-hot center may be impossible to find, but we have the whole world instead. Reprinted from Salon.com edited by Laura Miller by permission of Viking Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 Laura Miller. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

EXCERPTS

Abbey, Edward 1927-1989 b. Home, Pennsylvania

FICTION: Jonathan Troy (1956), The Brave Cowboy (1956), Fire on the Mountain (1962), Black Sun (1971), The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), Good News (1980), The Fool's Progress (1988), Hayduke Lives! (1990)

NONFICTION: Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (1968), Appalachian Wilderness: The Great Smoky Mountains (1970), Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah (with Philip Hyde, 1971), Cactus Country (1973), The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West (1977), Back Roads of Arizona (1978), The Hidden Canyon: A River Journey (1977), Desert Images: An American Landscape (1979), Abbey's Road: Take the Other (1979), Down the River (1982), In Praise of Mountain Lions (with John Nichols, 1984), Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside (1984), The Best of Edward Abbey (1988), One Life at a Time, Please (1988), A Voice Crying in the Wilderness: Essays from a Secret Journal (1990), Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951-1989 (1994), The Serpents of Paradise: A Reader (1995)

Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Viking Penguin. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: If We Were Villains
    If We Were Villains
    by M L. Rio
    22 out of 28 of our reviewers rated If We Were Villains four or five stars, giving it an overall ...
  • Book Jacket: The Islamic Enlightenment
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Leavers
    The Leavers
    by Lisa Ko
    The day before Deming Guo saw his mother for the last time, she surprised him at school. A navy blue...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

A richly layered novel of hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and then bound by a stunning act of human devotion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Scribe of Siena
    by Melodie Winawer

    Equal parts transporting love story, meticulously researched historical fiction, and compelling time-travel narrative.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Chalk Pit

The Chalk Pit:
A Ruth Galloway Mystery

A string of murders takes Ruth underground in the newest book in the series.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T W Don't M A R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -