Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England February 2, 2014 - 4:44pm

Hey everyone,

I had a similar discussion a while ago, but a lot has changed. To follow up: I'm in an independent study with a professor (currently a junior in college) in which we're studying Postmodern American literature. At the start, we had agreed on the following novels:

  • "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Breakfast of Champions" by Vonnegut
  • "Gravity's Rainbow" by Pynchon
  • "White Noise" by DeLillo
  • Either "The Bluest Eye" or "Song of Solomon" by Morrisson

So far, we've only completed "Slaughterhouse-Five". We had started "Gravity's Rainbow", but as amazing as it is, it's just not a viable option considering the limited time we have.

So now, I'm open to suggestions- we replaced "Gravity's Rainbow" with "The Crying of Lot 49", but we still need two more novels. I only have a couple requirements:

  • It needs to be classified under American Postmodern (only American-if it weren't, I'd just read "Wind-Up Bird Chronicle"  and "The Satanic Verses")
  • It needs to be relatively short (<500 pages, give or take), or if it's over, somewhat manageable in the limited time we have.

I have a couple ideas already:

  • "Crash" or "The Atrocity Exhibition" by Ballard
  • "Point Omega" by DeLillo
  • "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" by Eggers
  • "The Broom of the System" by Wallace (not sure if it's considered postmodern or not, though)
  • "Naked Lunch" by Burroughs
  • "The Handmaid's Tale" or "Cat's Eye" by Atwood
  • "JR" by Gaddis

So, after my blathering. . . any other suggestions? Any of the novels I listed you really like?

Thanks a lot for all your answers, guys!

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like February 2, 2014 - 6:09pm

The most postmodern thing you could do is to read one of those graphic-novel editions of the Holy Bible (or maybe the Lego Bible or something) and consider it to be a "work all its own." It doesn't have to be written by an American to be "American" postmodern; it merely has to be read by an American to be "American" postmodern.

Dmcleod's picture
Dmcleod from Florida is reading Molloy February 2, 2014 - 9:34pm

The philosophy of Friend's

Dmcleod's picture
Dmcleod from Florida is reading Molloy February 3, 2014 - 1:16am

On a similar, but serious note. The Big Lebowski and Philosophy is a good read.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions February 3, 2014 - 2:22am

J.G. Ballard was English. 

Margaret Atwood is Canadian.

Are you looking for novels only, or would short story collections work?

Vonnegut Check's picture
Vonnegut Check from Baltimore February 3, 2014 - 11:46am

I've given this book as a gift many times: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. It's the best book I've ever read. Definitely post modern (though I loathe that term, but that's another discussion). Definitely awesome.

Read an excerpt here.

Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England February 3, 2014 - 1:02pm

Mattf, thanks for the notifications, I had no idea. And I'm leaning mainly towards novels, but I wouldn't mind short story collections if they were really good.

And Vonnegut Check, I've read "The Things They Carried", and yeah, it's amazing, definitely up there on my favorites list. Maybe I'll try to do something else by O'Brien.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs February 5, 2014 - 5:53pm

Tours of the Black Clock or maybe a different Steve Erickson book.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon February 6, 2014 - 8:55am

I read 2 or 3 of Erickson's books, back to back, a long time ago. Tours of the Black Clock was next in line. I never did finish it. And then I tried reading it a little later and I don't think I was in the mood for it. It's funny because that seems to be the most highly recommended of his books.

Hazel Motes's picture
Hazel Motes from Buffalo, New York is reading House of Leaves and A Happy Death February 8, 2014 - 9:55am

House of Leaves, Naked Lunch those should keep you busy for a little bit.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs February 8, 2014 - 12:46pm

Needs more car chases.