The Review of Contemporary Fiction

A tri-quarterly journal of critical essays on non-conventional fiction writers. Articles include analysis, commentary, and an extensive book review section.

Articles from Vol. 13, No. 2, Summer

An Interview with David Foster Wallace
Larry McCanery: Your essay following this interview is going to be seen by some people as being basically an apology for television. What's your response to the familiar criticism that television fosters relationships with illusions or simulations...
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An Interview with Susan Daitch
Larry McCaffery: What sort of writing have you been doing recently? In an interview a while back you mentioned you were working on a series of interrelated novellas ... Susan Daitch: I've put those aside and have been working on a novel about Georges...
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An Interview with William T. Vollmann
Larry McCaffery: In one of your biographical statements, you emphasize your absorption as a kid in books - this sense of riding on the magic carpet with the caliph, and so on. Did inhabiting these exotic places so long and so deeply in your imagination...
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Arctic Revelations: Vollmann's 'Rifles' and the Frozen Landscape of the Self
Towards the beginning of The Rifles, the third volume of his visionary Seven Dreams series, William T. Vollmann - or perhaps more accurately, the textual "Vollmann" (aka John, John Franklin, Captain Subzero, William the Blind, "he," "you," and "me")...
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E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction
Act Natural Fiction writers as a species tend to be oglers. They tend to lurk and to stare. The minute fiction writers stop moving, they start lurking, and stare. They are born watchers. They are viewers. They are the ones on the subway about...
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Fighting to Write: A Short Reminiscence of D.F. Wallace
Between April Fool's Day and the Fourth of July, 1989, I wrote a small book with David Foster Wallace. Wallace and I were splitting a two-bedroom flop in the soot-path of the Monsignor McGrath Highway, Boston. Wallace studied philosophy at Harvard....
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Into the Heart of Things: Passion and Perception in Susan Daitch's 'The Colorist.'
With L. C, Susan Daitch established herself among the more gifted novelists of her generation, and in The Colorist - actually an elaboration of a novella that preceded L.C. - she again marshaled impressive erudition to the service of a considerable...
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Notes towards Four Meditations on W.T. Vollmann
1. The infant/enfances - to find out where he comes from, talking so high and hard, as he does. Research here for you, schoolmen. 2. Dawn of murder - does he want to turn murder, which is just a common American bad habit, into some inflected art?...
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Reading and Riding the Post-Scientific Wave: The Shorter Fiction of David Foster Wallace
The influential swing toward meaning and away from sense is as discernible on the wilder shores of contemporary American fiction as it is in the shored up wilds of that contemporary fiction that is America. Its consequence has bean a much anticipated...
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Rend(er)ing 'L.C.': Susan Daitch Meets Borges & Borges, Delacroix, Marx, Derrida, Daumier, and Other Textualized Bodies
The Gallery Foyer: Epigraphs(1) The silent printing-press parts stored in the ship's hold twitch with unwritten sentences, language waiting to be born. Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history...
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Sentimental Educations
Translators, you might say, are paradoxical performers whose greatest virtuosity consists in making themselves invisible. "In my translation, I've tried to be true to the original," writes Jane Amme, a character in Susan Daitch's novel L.C whose presence...
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Something to Die For
This time the Cassandras who talk about the death of the novel may be right, because the great enemy, television, is working to bring about the death of the book. Television is ideal for people without memories. As an instrument of control it might...
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Suicide Notes on William T. Vollmann's 'You Bright and Risen Angels.'
(But not I, not I....) When and where I grew up, before the main picture at a Saturday matinee, they always played an insect cartoon. This presumably was meant to appease the insects in the audience, chaperoned and otherwise, for whom no feature films...
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Termite Art, or Wallace's Wittgenstein
If you do know that there is one hand, we'll grant you all the rest It's a myth that truth is stranger than fiction. Actually they're about equally strange. Reality Termites vs. the White Elephants Might I not believe that once, without knowing...
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The Books as Apparatus: William Vollmann's Special Editions
Having published four books with four publishers in less than a year, William Vollmann is attracting attention. People are understandably fascinated by gargantuan feats of writing (and research - in the past year, he has made trips to the North Pole,...
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Uncertain Physiognomies: Susan Daitch's 'L.C.'
"To the extent that the social fabric is unraveling, that's an issue tailor-made for women."(1) Political progress for women is frequently tied to the disintegration of an existing social order. The chance to grab at a bouquet half-tossed and half-forced...
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Where an Author Might Be Standing
In the keystone novella to his first book of stories, "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way," David Foster Wallace voices a longing "to write something that stabs you in the heart. That pierces you, makes you think you're going to die. Maybe...
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