Keeping Literary Company

Jerome Klinkowitz, Author State University of New York Press $52.5 (226p) ISBN 978-0-7914-3723-0
Klinkowitz has made a university career of studying writers on the edge of academic acceptability, interpreting Kurt Vonnegut, Donald Barthelme, Jerzy Kosinski and others whose work both resonated with their contemporary culture and pushed it in new directions. His chatty, personal memoir begins back in the late 1960s, when as a young assistant professor in a Midwestern university he was stifled by an English department that still considered Hemingway and Faulkner members of the new generation. With each discovery of a contemporary writer his enthusiasm for ""innovative"" fiction grew, and he eagerly sought out those who were stretching the popular definition of the novel, for whom ""the imagination took primacy over any supposed description of what passed for reality."" Meeting those innovators before their books became widely known, Klinkowitz tracked their growing popularity and varying techniques and, in some cases, the wild ride of public notoriety. Klinkowitz has been interested in the margins of the literary world, and the ways that world was defined by these writers; most such writers were touched by his attention, though Klinkowitz writes fondly even of those with whom he lost contact, and in whose work he lost interest. If occasionally the book threatens to become ""Me and My Famous Friends"" and if one may not always agree with Klinkowitz on the importance of some lesser-known proteges, for the most part, he is realistic, honest and witty. These memories enrich our own view of a particular creative group, but also suggest that for many, their moment has passed. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
Paperback - 226 pages - 978-0-7914-3724-7
Open Ebook - 228 pages - 978-0-585-05933-4
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