Literary Criticism Reviews 

 
After Southern Modernism: Fiction of the Contemporary South
By Matthew Guinn
University Press of Mississippi, 2000
ISBN: 1-57806-273-X

 

In After Southern Modernism Matthew Guinn details a movement/break from the traditional form and mythology. Guinn looks at post-modernity and its recent appearance in Southern fiction. While it has been seen previously in architecture, art, and other forms of expression. It has been late to appear or rather to be recognized in Southern fiction. Guinn attempts to rectify this oversight with his expansive discussion of nine writers. In these authors, previously marginalized persons and perspectives are given voice.

Guinn examines Dorothy Allison and Harry Crews’ work detailing the poor South instead of the ubiquitous pastoral, or rural South. Larry Brown and a growing number of poor white authors bring another perspective to the literary canon. With their strict attention to narrative and employment of feminist and blue-collar perspectives, Kate Gibbons and Bobbie Ann Mason further expand Southern fiction’s contemporary appeal and relevant

Guinn finds the postmodern Southern landscape ranging from the surreal and often bleak(Cormac McCarthy), an expatriate in New Jersey, Montana or Paris (Richard Ford). The multiplicity of voices- Southern, white, black, homosexual, in combination, in opposition are represented in After Southern Modernity by a discussion of the work of Randall Kenan. Lastly Guinn studies the significance of Barry Hannah’s skeptical approach to Southern mythology surrounding the Civil War.

After Southern Modernity provides a thorough study of the traditional, or accepted motifs and themes in Southern literature and how these postmodern authors have sought to expand or break from this tradition. It would serve as an appropriate introduction to postmodern Southern fiction. Additionally it may prove a starting point for readers searching for more contemporary and unconventional viewpoints than those of Faulkner, Welty, and Mitchell.

Tia Blassingame
Southern Scribe Reviews 

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