Everything and Less
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Everything and Less : The Novel in the Age of Amazon

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Description

As the story goes: Jeff Bezos left a lucrative job to start something new in Seattle only after a deeply affecting reading of Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day. But if a novel gave usAmazon.com, what has Amazon meant for the novel? In Everything and Less, acclaimed critic Mark McGurl discovers a dynamic scene of cultural experimentation in literature, with a confidence that rivals modernism. Its innovations have little to do with how the novel is written and more to do with how it's distributed online. On the internet, all fiction becomes genre fiction, which is simply another way to predict customer satisfaction.

With an eye on the longer history of the novel, this witty, acerbic book tells a story that connects Henry James to E.L. James, Faulkner and Hemingway to contemporary romance, science fiction and fantasy writers. Reclaiming several works of self-published fiction from the gutter of complete critical disregard, it stages a copernican revolution in how we understand the world of letters: it's the stuff of high literature - Colson Whitehead, Don DeLillo, and Amitav Ghosh - that revolve around the star of countless unknown writers trying to forge a career by untraditional means, Adult Baby Diaper Lover erotica being just one fortuitous route. In opening the floodgates of popular literary expression as never before, the Age of Amazon shows a democratic promise, as well as what it means when literary culture becomes corporate culture in the broadbest but also deepest and most troubling sense.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 26.42mm | 503.49g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 183976385X
  • 9781839763854
  • 61,012

Review quote

"As Mark McGurl suggests in this deep dive into the ubiquitous reach of 'the world's biggest bookstore,' in the age of Amazon, 'every novel is a genre novel.'"
-Lit Hub ("Most Anticipated Books of 2021")

"Provocative ... [McGurl] raises significant questions about the state of publishing."
-Publishers Weekly

"Consumers might find in McGurl's book a warning to stay as far away as possible and seek out better forms of discovery than Amazon's website, like visiting an indie bookstore, asking a friend, or reading a magazine-looking for anything but what rises to the top of the feed."
-New Republic

"McGurl here argues that the retail behemoth that once proudly called itself Earth's Biggest Bookstore has blurred, to the point of indistinction, the alleged line between literary and genre fiction. Proving, perhaps his point: a visit to Professor McGurl's book's page on Amazon leads one to Psions of SPIRE bundle: Vol. 1, a box set of paranormal, LGBTQ-fantasy romances by Alex Silver."
-Globe and Mail

"In this provocative literary history, McGurl draws a line between Amazon's distribution model and the dissolution of genre boundaries, arguing that Amazon's algorithm has effectively turned all fiction into genre fiction. In lucid and well-argued prose, McGurl raises important questions about just where all this disruption is taking us."
-Esquire (Best Books of Fall 2021)

"In the last couple decades, Amazon fundamentally transformed the business of bookselling, changing how customers buy their favorite titles and disrupting supply chains around the world. But how has the company also impacted writing on an aesthetic level? That's one of the questions driving this study of modern literature from critic and professor Mark McGurl."
-Thrillist (24 Books We Can't Wait to Read This Fall)

"In Everything and Less, accomplished literary critic Mark McGurl makes the case that the online superstore has also changed the way that we read."
-The Week (15 books to read this fall)


"Provocative ... [McGurl] raises significant questions about the state of publishing."
-Publishers Weekly

"In Everything and Less, accomplished literary critic Mark McGurl makes the case that the online superstore has also changed the way that we read."
-Jeva Lange, The Week

"Consumers might find in McGurl's book a warning to stay as far away as possible and seek out better forms of discovery than Amazon's website, like visiting an indie bookstore, asking a friend, or reading a magazine-looking for anything but what rises to the top of the feed."
-Kyle Chayka, New Republic

"The point here-and I think it's the most profound in McGurl's very entertaining book-is that Amazon is refashioning the novel as an object."
-Christopher Webb, Review 31

"Fierce ... Everything and Less enlists literary sources to explain the place of culture in a neoliberal economy."
-Leah Price, New York Times

"Provocative ... in lucid and well-argued prose, McGurl goes spelunking through the many genres shaped by Amazon's consumerist logic."
-Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire ("October Book Club Pick")

"Intriguing and entertaining ... Everything and Less is a good starting point for a re-consideration of literary production and reading in our times."
-M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review

"Engrossing ... McGurl argues that Amazon's outsize role in serving readers' needs has had a profound impact, not just on well-documented matters of retailing and warehousing, but on what we read, and to an extent, the content of the books themselves."
-Mark Athitakis, On the Seawall
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About Mark Mcgurl

Mark McGurl is the Albert Guerard Professor of Literature at Stanford University. His last book, The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing, won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. He previously worked for The New York Times and The New York Review of Books.
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Rating details

29 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 38% (11)
4 31% (9)
3 28% (8)
2 0% (0)
1 3% (1)
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