Contemporary Fiction: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
At the risk of falling into the quick judgment trap that the author cautions against, this reader will quickly make a snap judgment to opine that more care and craft should be taken in a review of contemporary literature that this small volume contains. In no way did it excite me about the possibilities of further reading in that genre. This being said, the design of the small pocket-ready book is delightful with blurbs that serve as bookmarks and a small format for on-the-go reads. The author’s chapter about contemporary literary criticism is interesting and informed.
This book is less about the novel in 2013 than the historical basis unpinning such work. The author also has a jaded look at a novel’s potential influence: “It won’t stop global warming, nor will it prevent torturers from maiming or killing their victims.” Indeed, these are long standing problems, but this reader is hopeful that the novel by Dickens can ameliorate child labor and Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin can enlighten and humanize a nation. If the task of the critic, as the author contends is really to say “yes, but,” this reader would say “not for the average reader, yes; but if your friend is an English professor, one would have a very nice little gift.
Oxford University Press, USA