Part Blood, Part Ketchup : Coming of Age in American Literature and Film
Part Blood, Part Ketchup analyzes novels by 20th century authors Edith Wharton, J.D. Salinger, Philip Roth, John Irving, and Jamaica Kincaid, uncovering trends that obliterate cultural divides. With unrestrained American voices, the collective pitch of their complaints soars, revealing an unmistakable formula of heightened self-exposure and fury. As in the case of protagonists on the page and the screen, it becomes difficult to distinguish authentic suffering from performance-or in the words of one reviewer-the ratio of blood to ketchup. Breathtaking in scope,Part Blood, Part Ketchup situates over one hundred years of literature and film within national, historical, and global contexts, tracing 19th century European allegations of a troubling narrowness in the American character to contemporary insights about the global superpower. Ultimately, Karen Tolchin finds that subtle evolution of the American coming-of-age narrative has performed significant cultural work in the construction of our national mythology.
- Hardback | 142 pages
- 157.5 x 226.1 x 17.8mm | 317.52g
- 01 Nov 2006
- Lexington Books
- Lanham, MD, United States
Table of contents
Part 1 Evolution of the American Complaint: An Odyssey in Blood and Ketchup Chapter 2 An Overview of the American Character Chapter 3 Alexander Portnoy Meets Young Werther and Lucky Jim Chapter 4 Optimism, Innocence, and Angst in The Catcher in the Rye Chapter 5 Violence, Lunacy, and Family Values in The World According to Garp Part 6 Luxuries of Discontent: Female Jeremiads by American Women Chapter 7 Wharton's House of Angst Chapter 8 Never Enough Blessings: Jamaica Kincaid and the Postcolonial Complaint Chapter 9 Afterword: Portnoy 21.0
Karen Tolchin's shrewd and vivid Part Blood, Part Ketchup captures the way in which the recent American bildungsroman differs from its European counterparts. The tradition of such books, from Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye to Kincaid's Lucy, angrier, less disciplined, more candid, and in every way more out of control than their European models, and indeed, scarcely take bildung itself very seriously as a possibility whether for their protagonists or anybody else. They differ from their models in ways which parallel how the classic "American Romance" differs from the realist novel, as Richard Chase famously described the distinction years ago. It was particularly exciting to see Wharton's The House of Mirth rendered in this way; that novel reveals an entirely new face -- and the complicated relationship of the protagonist to the narrator makes more sense -- when it is seen in the company of Portnoy's Complaint rather than in the company of The Portait of a Lady. -- John Burt, Brandeis University Karen Tolchin has written a wonderful interdisciplinary study of the American compulsion to tell all in narratives of maturation. Part Blood, Part Ketchup bristles with insight and wit as it ranges over canonical fictions, bestsellers, and popular movies. Among other virtues, the book is a delight to read--and to re-read. A stellar performance. -- Michael T. Gilmore, Paul Prosswimmer Professor of American Literature, Brandeis University
About Karen R. Tolchin
Karen R. Tolchin is assistant professor of English at Florida Gulf Coast University.