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.
"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.
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.
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.
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."