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By J. Karnicky

This booklet argues for the moral relevancy of latest fiction firstly of the twenty-first century. via examining novels by way of such writers as David Foster Wallace, Richard Powers, and Irvine Welsh, this publication appears to be like at how those works search to rework the ways in which readers stay on the earth.

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Chapter 1, “Between Reading and Writing: Susan Daitch, David Markson, and ‘Bartleby,’” focuses on the movement between reading and writing as conceptualized by Daitch and Markson—not as a one-way movement between reading and writing, but as a continual oscillation. This chapter is a slow rumination; it dwells in the space of reading and writing, just as Blanchot and Derrida do, just as the narrators of the stories I discuss do. These stylistics infect my reading and writing style and create a new style of engagement that then varies with each ensuing chapter.

An ethics of reading postmodern literature cannot be generalized. It only becomes clear as it emerges through singular acts of reading. CHAPTER 1 BETWEEN READING AND WRITING: SUSAN DAITCH, DAVID MARKSON, AND “BARTLEBY” What most threatens reading is this: the reader’s reality, his personality, his immodesty, his stubborn insistence upon remaining himself in the face of what he reads—a man who knows in general how to read. —Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature, 198 To write is also to become something other than a writer.

The tableaus can be separated from the neighbor’s intention; the narrator can look through the window and read the arrangement of figures. In other words, the things that distance the narrator from her neighbor—the window, the unanswered phone, his death—or the spaces where communication breaks down are the same spaces that make a reading possible. Interpretation becomes impossible; the narrator cannot say that “this means that,” and she cannot appeal to authorial intention to decode meaning. The unanswered phone—“no one picked up”—grounds the impossibility of finding an origin from which to produce an interpretation.

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