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."
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.