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Author: Michael Kalisch

This book explores how the contemporary American novel has revived a long literary and political tradition of imagining male friendship as interlinked with the promises and paradoxes of democracy in the United States. In the last decades of the twentieth century, not only novelists but philosophers, critical theorists, and sociologists rediscovered the concept of friendship as a means of scrutinising bonds of national identity. This book reveals how friendship, long exiled from serious political philosophy, returned as a crucial term in late twentieth-century communitarian debates about citizenship, while, at the same time, becoming integral to continental philosophy’s exploration of the roots of democracy, and, in a different guise, to histories of sexuality. Moving innovatively between these disciplines, this important study brings into dialogue the work of authors rarely discussed together – including Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Dinaw Mengestu, and Teju Cole – and advances a compelling new account of the political and intellectual fabric of the contemporary American novel.

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Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (2012) and Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude (2003)

‘You’ll never get it if you don’t slow down’ Before turning to the work of Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem, I want to spend a little longer in Auggie’s tobacconist, where I concluded the previous chapter. In Smoke , Auster portrays the Brooklyn Cigar Company as a focal point for a model of community. Auggie’s corner store is the block’s local spot where men go to ‘shoot the breeze’, creating a loose network of overlapping neighbourhood affinities that cohere into a ramshackle sociality. 1 In the previous chapter, I explored how money moves differently

in The politics of male friendship in contemporary American fiction
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’s relationship in The Human Stain before noting how ‘Jonathan Lethem in The Fortress of Solitude and Michael Chabon in Telegraph Avenue have not only written about black characters (from a white point of view) but adopted their voices as well’. 18 Highlighting how these authors self-consciously position themselves as part of a genealogy of American fiction reaching back to the nineteenth century, Markovits aligns his own work with this tradition. Just as Chabon revisits his childhood in Columbia, Maryland, to write about race relations in Oakland, Markovits reflects

in The politics of male friendship in contemporary American fiction
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defensive suspicion and misunderstanding, Rush argues, male friendship can again be explored in fiction. This book argues that Rush is partly right. I demonstrate that male friendship does indeed re-emerge as a significant theme in late twentieth- and twenty-first-century American fiction, and I offer extended analyses of works by a broad and eclectic range of novelists, including Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Dinaw Mengestu, and Teju Cole. But I argue that the reasons behind this re-emergence are not only to do with changing societal

in The politics of male friendship in contemporary American fiction
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James Peacock

forms’ (Hoberek, 2007 : 240) by authors such as Lethem and Michael Chabon is one of the symptoms of what has become known as the ‘post-postmodern’ in contemporary fiction. Unlike Thomas Pynchon, for example, whose appropriation of the detective story and political conspiracy thriller for The Crying of Lot 49 (1967) serves what Hoberek calls a postmodern ‘metadiscursive’ purpose (Hoberek, 2007 : 238

in Jonathan Lethem
Open Access (free)
David Brauner

view of British Jewish responses to the Holocaust’ ( Vice 2015 : 274). 8 In addition to these sections of book chapters, there have been a handful of journal articles devoted to Jacobson’s work, albeit almost invariably in conjunction with another writer. 9 Two of these articles have looked at Jacobson alongside the American Jewish novelist Michael Chabon. The first of these, Andrzej Gasiorek’s ‘Michael Chabon, Howard Jacobson, and Post-Holocaust fiction’, explores the ways in which Kalooki Nights and Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000

in Howard Jacobson
As She Climbed Across the Table
James Peacock

entertained his sympathetic colleagues’, we are informed, ‘Chip felt secure in the knowledge that his parents could not have been more wrong about who he was and what kind of career he was suited to pursue’ (Franzen, 2001 : 35). Other examples would include Grady Tripp in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys (1995), a frustrated novelist and creative writing tutor who is unable to finish his mammoth new

in Jonathan Lethem
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Bringing stone, flesh, and text to life in Andreas
Denis Ferhatović

places a challenge on the readers. Michael Chabon, in his essay on fan fiction and Sherlock Holmes, likens all writers to amateurs producing sequels to the works of their beloved authors. This statement applies particularly well to hagiographers handling adventure-filled apocryphal narratives: Though parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us and that we have come of age loving – amateurs – we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence

in Borrowed objects and the art of poetry
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Contemporary criticism and the untimely
Daniel Lea

infusion of genres such as the graphic novel and fantasy into the mainstream as a result of the greater value ascribed to popular culture by postmodernism’s anti-hierarchicalism, but it is augmented by the increasing number of literary figures producing genre titles. Hoberek focuses primarily 12 introduction: contemporary criticism and the untimely on American exponents of this latter phenomenon, such as Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem, but a comparable list of British examples would include Iain Banks, Andrew Crumey, Bernardine Evaristo, Neil Gaiman, Steven Hall

in Twenty-first-century fiction