Genre collisions and mutations
in Jonathan Lethem
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The introduction outlines the book’s main claim that genre is an ethical category in Lethem’s work. The author brings genres together to show what happens when people encounter difference in their lives and are forced to acknowledge arenas of experience other than their own familiar ones. Lethem’s use of the term “amnesia” – a wilful ignorance of others’ experience – is defined. Rick Altman’s theory of genre formation is used, along with Dick Hebdige’s classic work on subcultures and identity, and the introduction ends with an analysis of Lethem’s short story “Procedure in Plain Air.”


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