Jennifer J. Smith, The American Short Story Cycle (Edinburgh UP, 2017)

Jennifer J. Smith, The American Short Story Cycle (Edinburgh UP, 2017)

The American Short Story Cycle spans two centuries to tell the history of a genre that includes both major and marginal authors, from Washington Irving through William Faulkner to Jhumpa Lahiri. The short story cycle rose and proliferated because its form compellingly renders the uncertainties that emerge from the twin pillars of modern America culture: individualism and pluralism. Short story cycles reflect how individuals adapt to change, whether it is the railroad coming to the small town in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919) or social media revolutionizing language in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010). Combining new formalism in literary criticism with scholarship in American Studies, this book gives a name and theory to the genre that has fostered the aesthetics of fragmentation, as well as recurrence, that characterise fiction today.

 

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