United States Culture: the Beat Generation and the Minimalists

By | November 6, 2021

In the 1960s, T. Pinchon (b.1937) also achieved success, combining historical information, fantasy and popular tradition in his fiction and influencing very different writers such as D. De Lillo (b.1936) and P. Auster (b.1947). In the same years writers who expressed the discomfort of the marginalization produced by a savage industrialization and the myth of wealth also began to assert themselves. R. Carver (1938-1988), for example, through small stories of ordinary people (Will you shut up please, 1963; What are we talking about when we talk about love, 1974) brings the reverse of the American dream into literature., using a clear and precise language, almost everyday. On a very similar wavelength is G. Paley (1922-2007), who in the favorite genre of short stories (Small mishaps of living, 1959; Enormous changes at the last minute, 1975) achieves an astonishing linguistic punctuality. According to physicscat, the essentiality of these writers has left more than one mark in American literature, coming to influence, in the Eighties, a host of authors gathered in the current of “minimalism”. The head of the school is indicated by D. Leavitt (b. 1961), author of short stories and novels constructed with a cinematographic technique, often of great effect (Family Ball, 1984; The lost language of cranes, 1986; The new lost generation, 1998; The page turner, 1999). J. McInerney (b.1955), with The Thousand Lights of New York (1984), B. Easton Ellis (b.1964), with Less than zero (1986), American Psycho (1991) Glamorama (2001) and Lunar Park (2005), on the other hand, severely accuse the ferociously consumerist society, criticizing the values ​​of Reagan America. At the turn of the eighties and nineties, new literary trends take hold, such as the western novel, with T. Hillerman (b.1926), who sets his works in the Indian reservations, J. Didion (b. 1934), T. McGuane, and the native americans L. Hogan and J. Mowry. It is also worth mentioning the growing success of authors of Mexican origin (Chicani), which originates above all in the strong growth of the population of Latin American origin. Their novels and short stories are linked by a common thread: the dilemma of identity, together with the inevitable betrayal of their cultural heritage. Dedicated to the double alienation suffered by black women, due to racial (for the color of her skin) and social (for her very condition as a woman), is the intensely lyrical narrative of Toni Morrison (b.1931), who in 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Beyond the prestigious award to lady of black American literature ” (who places herself at the head of a handful of valid African-American authors such as A. Walker, G. Naylor and T. McMillan), was the lack of” new “authors endowed with authentic incisiveness and capable to conquer a lasting space on the American literary scene, detected by national and foreign critics, to mark the early nineties, which saw the continued dominance of junk literature established in the previous decade. They were veterans such as S. Bellow, J. Updike, Th. Pynchon, G. Vidal (b.1925), P. Roth (b.1933) and new and talented writers such as C. Palahniuk (b.1968; author by Invisible Monsters, Survivor, Choke, Suffocate and Fight Club, from which a successful film was made in 1999) to raise the quality level of American prose of these years. But it will be P. Roth (b.1933) who enlivens contemporary literature with the intelligent satire of the novel Portnoy’s Lament (1969) and the misadventures of Zuckerman, the controversial protagonist of The Ghost Writer (1979), The Anatomy Lesson (1983), American Pastoral (1997, 1998 Pulitzer Prize), or with subsequent novels The Human Stain (2000), The Conspiracy Against America (2004) and Everyman (2006), a nostalgic hymn to life seen from the perspective of old age. While novelists such as S. Turow (b.1949), T. Clancy (b.1947), J. Grisham (b.1955) and M. Crichton (b.1942), who enjoyed enormous public success, seemed often unable to escape the influence, already suffered during the drafting of their works, of Hollywood filmmakers, always looking for material of great impact to be adapted for the big screen, as was the case also for the pages of S. King (b. 1947), which led to numerous film adaptations directed by great directors such as B. De Palma and S. Kubrick. Believed to be the father of the horror genre, King tackled the themes of terror and mystery (Salem’s Nights, 1975; It, 1986; Colorado Kid, 2005): from extrasensory perceptions to vampires, from ghosts to serial killers, his works show an undoubted ability to involve a large audience of readers, while nurturing a purely genre vein. In the poem, the names to be mentioned are those of J. Wright, A. Fulton, C. Simic, CK Williams, R. Pinsky, G. Stern, C. Wright, G. Snyder, L. Glück, S. Sandy and S Wood. The panorama of contemporary American literature continues to prove capable of proposing different voices, while at the same time managing to give a voice to ethnic minorities (such as the Sino-American Amy Tan, The circle of luck and happiness, or the Native American Barbara Kingsolver, The canyon of dreams).

Among the authors most loved by the public and critics is undoubtedly D. DeLillo, who with his works (White Noise, 1985) shows how the privileged environment such as that of an American family does not exempt from common existential problems. Underworld (1997) and Falling Man (2007) are also worthy of mention by the same author. In addition to DeLillo, R. Coover (Pricksong & descants, 1969) and P. Auster are also exponents of postmodernism, who through refined narrative constructions (Moon Palace, 1989; The book of illusions, 2002; Journeys in the scriptorium, 2007) has thrilled audiences all over the world. Known as a prolific writer of short stories, novels, screenplays and non-fiction, we remember J. Carol Oates (b.1938) whose works tell the story of everyday life through the representation of violence (Mike Tyson; Misfatti; Blonde, novel that traces the myth of Marilyn Monroe through the thousand facets that characterized her life). Among the major contemporary talents we also find J. Franzen (b.1959) with the award-winning The Corrections, 2001, a bitter family saga in the Midwest, and C. McCarthy (b.1933) whose novels tell the violence of rural America, of the frontier up to No Country for Old Men (2005), a violent, melancholy and desperate modern western, and the apocalyptic on the road tragedy of La strada (2006 Pulitzer Prize). Also included in the framework of the most interesting contemporary writers are D. Foster Wallace (1962-2008), with Infinite Jest (1996) and Oblio (2004), J. Lansdale, M. Chabon, M. Cunningham, JH Updike, T. Pynchon, D. De Lillo and P. Roth. Finally, as regards the most recent literary phenomena, we remember the Twilight sagas , by Stephenie Meyer and Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

United States Culture