Late Postmodern Novels: The Works of Justin Taylor and Blake Butler


late postmodernism
Blake Butler and Justin Taylor.

Late postmodernism is finally being called something unselfconscious: subjectivism.

Today there are a lot of memoirs written in a confessional style. Dave Eggers’ Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the quintessential work in the genre. Except it was written as a memoir, so its whininess can be forgiven. Since its publication ten years ago, literature has become increasingly intimate and subjective, told unreliably from one perspective. It’s almost the opposite of the modernist objective of understanding humanity through different perspectives. In fact, it’s just an evolution of the idea.

It makes sense. Think of all the tweets, the Facebook statuses, the virtual mapping on sites like Foursquare. But the interactivity that many people describe as part of our era is actually a relatability, and not necessarily a physical interaction between the work and viewer.

The work of Justin Taylor is very much in the subjectivist vein. His novel The Gospel of Anarchy is intimate, humorous and colloquial. On the other hand, Blake Butler‘s There Is No Year is serious, omniscient and oddly human. They are similar in a way that is stylistically different, and which I can’t yet put my finger on; I’ll post more when I’m finished.




By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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