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.
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.
"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.
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."
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.
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.
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.