Experimental forms in contemporary fiction
Concerned with developments in contemporary innovative fiction Experimental Forms in Contemporary Fiction locates 'post- Modernist' writing largely within a North American context. William Burroughs, Ronald Sukenick, Donald Barthelme, Ishmael Reed, Robert Coover and Steve Katz are identified as the exemplary post-Modernist figures; their favoured techniques --a combination of cancellation and erasure, fragmentation and discontinuity, game and play--express an indeterminancy of meaning which places post-Modernist writing at some distance from the writing of contemporary figures like Vladimir Nabokov, John Hawkes and John Barth, who, as identifiably 'neo- Modernists', are essentially concerned with extending Modernism's restorative and paralleling features into the contemporary literary discourse. At the same time, post- Modernist fiction bears only a passing resemblence to the work of innovative contemporary British writers like B. S. Johnson, Gabriel Josipovici and J. G. Ballard, who are inclined to impose a series of disruptive forms upon mimetic substance. Uniquely post-Modernist fiction celebrates an eternity of displacement by insisting that unity, coherence and system are totalitarian concepts inimicable to the necessary free- lay of the imagination. Therefore, even as Burroughs et al express long-standing American literary concerns, post- Modernist fiction is demonstrably part of the deconstructive shift away from holistic and humanistic ideas and procedures. Post-Modernist writing, therefore, initiates a crisis within literary criticism, one which needs to be examined against the background of contemporary philosophical, cultural, and social developments.