When I was in college, I took a postmodern novels class. This might have been difficult enough on its own, but the class was made more challenging by the fact that all the books were in Spanish. Nevertheless, I learned what “post-modernism” means (I think), which was helpful when I got to grad school, where the term was bandied about far more than necessary (although sometimes with irony, thank goodness). I picked up the following link to a Los Angeles Times story about post-modern novels from The New Yorker, where I am reading the latest Malcolm Gladwell piece. The Gladwell article is on overconfidence. It’s good so far.
According to the LAT piece, there are 61 essential post-modern pieces, and I’ve read 6 of them. Is 10% good? Maybe it’s because so few are by women… Here are my takes on the 6 that I’ve read. (NB: the icons pertain to the LAT article)
Dave Eggers’ “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” (of course. like 4 times)
Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Everything Is Illuminated” (I quite liked this, but JSF’s other novel is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which I thought was amazing)
Vladimir Nabokov’s “Pale Fire” (crazy meta-narrative about a poem written in rhyming couplets, yet which has an odd number of lines; “Shady” narrator; Nabokov was a genius)
Harvey Pekar’s “American Splendor” (do you think watching the movie counts? I saw the movie.)
William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” (great! I preferred it the second time I read it.)
Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”(Vonnegut makes me so depressed.)
What makes a novel postmodern? Which have you read? Would you add or delete from this list? Why are there only 3 women on this list?
PS — Apparently I think it’s postmodern/post-modern to spell it with and without a hyphen in the same blog post. Now my brain hurts from typing “post” so many times.