america to norway, come in norway


Before venturing any trendspotting comments about American literature of the past decade, it’s probably worth scanning the ground hovering behind any exciting new figures stamped on the air—in other words, to observe again that novel-writing as an artistic practice has changed more slowly than almost any other, producing not only over the last ten, but over the last one hundred-and-fifty years mainly examples of what you might call the perennial novel. The perennial novel’s degree of realism or of sentimentality; its mixture of description, analysis, and dialogue; the social and psychological variety of its characters—all of these things and more shift across time, but only slowly. The novel of this past decade, then, is above all like the novel of previous decades; and it may be precisely because the novel is so open to changing historical content—new ways of talking, eating, and dressing, along with new technologies, manners, and beliefs—that the form itself displays such a glacial stability.

more from Benjamin Kunkel at n+1 here.