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Keeping Literary Company: Working With Writers Since the Sixties

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Starting in the 1960s, a group of radically new fiction writers began having success at reinventing the novel and short story for postmodern times. Chief among them were Kurt Vonnegut, Jerzy Kosinski, Donald Barthelme, Ronald Sukenick, Raymond Federman, Clarence Major, and Gilbert Sorrentino. Although their work proved puzzling to reviewers and did not fit the conventions familiar to academic critics, these writers found an ally in a young reader named Jerome Klinkowitz. Hired to teach Hawthorne and other nineteenth-century figures, Klinkowitz found his deepest sympathies (and most lifelike affinities) to be with Vonnegut and company instead. Beginning in 1969 he published the first scholarly essays on Vonnegut, Kosinski, Barthelme, and the others in turn. By 1975 he was ready to write Literary Disruptions, a literary history of what he called this "post-contemporary" period. Since then he has written more than thirty books on contemporary fiction and its allied developments in cultural history, art, music, politics, and philosophy.
Keeping Literary Company details Klinkowitz's work with these writers--not just researching their fiction and other publications, but introducing them to one another and taking part in the business-world activities that spread news of their innovations. He shows how what they wrote was so much a part of those turbulent times that a new literary generation found itself defined in such works as Slaughterhouse-Five, Being There, and Snow White. Here is a fascinating, first-person account of what these important figures wrote, how they wrote it, and what it means in the development of American fiction.

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