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Talents and Technicians: Literary Chic and the New Assembly-Line Fiction (1992)

por John W. Aldridge

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In Talents and Technicians: Literary Chic and the New Assembly-Line Fiction, John Aldridge offers an irreverent antidote to the pieties of the tastemakers--an incisive, provocative, and always compelling study of American writing in our time. Focusing on the current crop of young writers, many of whose reputations were made in a whirl of 1980s media hype, he determines who will likely survive the test of future critical scrutiny and what they have to say about our world. The expansion of graduate writing programs and their impact on the style and sensibilities of those they train are grist for Aldridge's mill; nor does he hide his feelings about the practices of reviewers and the critical establishment in general. Taking a hard look at the art of writing, he wonders at careers made and missed through adherence to fashion. However, fashion and hype are not all. In an assessment of the literary scene of the past thirty years, Aldridge takes heart in the contributions of such masters as Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, William Gaddis, and Norman Mailer, whose distinctive voices continue to challenge and reinvent the culture. It is within this context that Aldridge evaluates the new generation of writers, while examining the legacy of Raymond Carver and the influence of Ann Beattie. Never afraid to diverge from popular opinion, he guides us through works of Frederick and Donald Barthelme, Amy Hempel, Bobbie Ann Mason, Mary Robison, Louise Erdrich, Lorrie Moore, David Leavitt, and T. Coraghessan Boyle, and takes an unsparing look at the novels of Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis. Witty and refreshingly frank, Aldridge entertains as he reveals the talents who will be the bright lights of the nineties.… (mais)
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In two special issues appearing twenty-four years apart, in 1963 and 1987, Esquire magazine published feature articles purporting to indicate just where the major centers of literary power are located in the United States and which writers have the greatest influence on the course of national literary affairs.
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It would appear that the writing programs have not yet devised a way to reproduce or incorporate into their curricula the conditions which are best suited to to the creation of writers. While it is perfectly true that clonal fabrications of writers proliferate in these programs at an astounding rate, the outlook for their future success remains uncertain. ... Part of the problem is that most real writers have already been formed psychologically to become writers long before they are old enough to enter a program. At some time in childhood or early adolescence they will have learned to live with the fact that somehow they are different from others, that there is a detached and perversely watchful ingredient in their natures that causes them to stand just outside those experiences to which their contemporaries so robustly and mindlessly give themselves.
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In Talents and Technicians: Literary Chic and the New Assembly-Line Fiction, John Aldridge offers an irreverent antidote to the pieties of the tastemakers--an incisive, provocative, and always compelling study of American writing in our time. Focusing on the current crop of young writers, many of whose reputations were made in a whirl of 1980s media hype, he determines who will likely survive the test of future critical scrutiny and what they have to say about our world. The expansion of graduate writing programs and their impact on the style and sensibilities of those they train are grist for Aldridge's mill; nor does he hide his feelings about the practices of reviewers and the critical establishment in general. Taking a hard look at the art of writing, he wonders at careers made and missed through adherence to fashion. However, fashion and hype are not all. In an assessment of the literary scene of the past thirty years, Aldridge takes heart in the contributions of such masters as Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, William Gaddis, and Norman Mailer, whose distinctive voices continue to challenge and reinvent the culture. It is within this context that Aldridge evaluates the new generation of writers, while examining the legacy of Raymond Carver and the influence of Ann Beattie. Never afraid to diverge from popular opinion, he guides us through works of Frederick and Donald Barthelme, Amy Hempel, Bobbie Ann Mason, Mary Robison, Louise Erdrich, Lorrie Moore, David Leavitt, and T. Coraghessan Boyle, and takes an unsparing look at the novels of Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis. Witty and refreshingly frank, Aldridge entertains as he reveals the talents who will be the bright lights of the nineties.

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