American Dream, American Nightmare

American Dream, American Nightmare : Fiction Since 1960

3.75 (12 ratings by Goodreads)
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In this celebration of contemporary American fiction, Kathryn Hume explores how estrangement from America has shaped the fiction of a literary generation, which she calls the Generation of the Lost Dream. In breaking down the divisions among standard categories of race, religion, ethnicity, and gender, Hume identifies shared core concerns, values, and techniques among seemingly disparate and unconnected writers including T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ralph Ellison, Russell Banks, Gloria Naylor, Tim O'Brien, Maxine Hong Kingston, Walker Percy, N. Scott Momaday, John Updike, Toni Morrison, William Kennedy, Julia Alvarez, Thomas Pynchon, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Don DeLillo. Hume explores fictional treatments of the slippage in the immigrant experience between America's promise and its reality. She exposes the political link between contemporary stories of lost innocence and liberalism's inadequacies. She also invites us to look at the literary challenge to scientific materialism in various searches for a spiritual dimension in life. The expansive future promised by the American Dream has been replaced, Hume finds, by a sense of tarnished morality and a melancholy loss of faith in America's exceptionalism. "American Dream, American Nightmare" examines the differing critiques of America embedded in nearly a hundred novels and points to the source for recovery that appeals to many of the authors.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 376 pages
  • 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm | 716.67g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252025563
  • 9780252025563

Review quote

"Hume shows an encylopedic knowledge of the period she covers as she surveys novels that exhibit common techniques, problems, and issues... This well-documented study, with its lengthy bibliography, will be valuable and engaging for students and scholars at all levels." -- Choice "[Hume] works inductively, considering roughly one hundred novels published between 1960 and 1990 in order to illuminate their thematic alliances... [This volume] succeeds because of Hume's sharp eye for detail. A master of the one-thousand-word critique, she is able to succinctly move thorugh dense novels without neglecting significant themes or ignoring pressing issues... I can think of no better text to introduce graduate students to the field, enlighten specialists working in earlier periods, or guide the general reader looking for a map through the terrain of contemporary fiction." -- Eric Schocket, American Literature "A significant critical evaluation of contemporary American fiction that is sure to influence our understanding of the literature of the second half of the twentieth century... No one can claim to understand contemporary American fiction if he or she has not read and come to grips with the arguments in Hume's book." -- David W. Price, Southern Humanities Review ADVANCE PRAISE "It's hard to think of a critical book as a 'page-turner,' but I literally read American Dream, American Nightmare as though it were a novel, so engaging did I find it." -- Brian McHale, author of Postmodernist Fiction "Brilliant and far-ranging, American Dream, American Nightmare will make its readers cheer, think, and sometimes squirm. Anyone who reads, studies, or writes about the American novel after 1945 (with particular emphasis on the 1960-90 period) must accept Hume's challenge to contextualize and historicize this large body of fiction. American Dream, American Nightmare is a stunning piece of work." -- David Cowart, author of History and the Contemporary Novelshow more

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12 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
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4 75% (9)
3 25% (3)
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