In contemporary American literature, fiction is established as the dominant literary genre and it is interesting to note how a postmodern literature by definition such as the American one is not only dominated by novels imposing in size and ambition, but prefers, among all the variants, that of the novel. historical. It is true that in the novels of the postmodern founding fathers, history is assumed as a gigantic repertoire of events and characters that can be linked together in unpredictable ways, ignoring hierarchies of relevance and logical-temporal links. EL Doctorow focused his attention on social aspects or unresolved historical issues, a subject which also characterizes the works of M. McCarthy and C. Ozick ; K. Vonnegut it is expressed through the schemes of a pseudo-science fiction; JH Updike singers out the most worn out aspects of the American province; T. Pynchon leads a work of radical de-historicization in Mason & Dixon (1997) and Against the day (2006). ● Mass media addiction is thoroughly explored and taken to its extreme consequences in the work of D. DeLillo, from Americana (1971) to Libra (1988), the assassination of JF Kennedy, up to Underworld (1997) and Falling man (2007), inspired by the tragic attack on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001. Interesting authors, very different from each other, are J. Heller (famous for his anti-militarist satire Catch-22, 1961), R. Sukenick, R. Federman, H. Brodkey, G. Sorrentino, W. Abish. Texts such as American pastoral (1997), The dying animal (2001) and Everyman (2006) by P. Roth stand out. ● In addition to science fiction, other genres compete to acquire literary dignity: among these, first and foremost horror and crime fiction. Thus, it is the Gothic structure that supports the intricate interplay of mirrors in the work of W. Gaddis; it is its southern and post-Faulknerian version that innervates the ethical horror of W. Percy, J. Dickey, J. Purdy, W. Styron and C. McCarthy; not to mention the grotesque end in itself of all C. Bukowski’s productionand the titanic metaphor of the dark heart of America drawn in dozens of novels by the king of horror, S. King. The indecipherability of the real in the contemporary world justifies the proliferation of investigators in search of unattainable truths, such as those that populate the novels of P. Auster or R. Coover (Gerald’s party, 1986). To these are added the more canonical but less and less predictable investigators of E. Leonard, T. Harris and J. Ellroy (The Black Dahlia, 1987; LA noir, 1998; The cold six thousand, 2001). A large part of JC Oates’s work belongs not so much to the more canonical horror as to its American version, who has also experimented with other genres. ● In the context of fiction, a sort of return to reality and to the everyday will be mentioned, theorized and realized by T. Wolfe of The bonfire of the vanities (1987). A new label has been coined, minimalism, to describe that kind of reaction to the stylistic virtuosity that unites the careful and painful research of T. Olsen, G. Paley, and above all of R. Carver and his successors R. Banks, R. Ford, J. McInerney, D. Leavitt and B. Easton Ellis. Among the writers born between 1959 and 1970 we still mention J. Franzen, D. Foster Wallace (who committed suicide in 2008), M. Chabon, D. Eggers, N. Englander.
In the poetic panorama, the voices of the ex-beats alternated with the quieter existential meditations of K. Shapiro, R. Wilbur and R. Creeley, the ironic and almost domestic surrealism of M. Strand, the collected religiosity of R. Duncan and G.. Snyder. Even the poets most fascinated by the power of myth, such as A. Hecht, J. Merrill and WS Merwin, seem to opt for a controlled and compact shape. The virulent surrealism of R. Bly, never separated from a direct commitment to the most pressing current issues, and the subversive iconoclasm of J. Ashbery, exponent, together with C. Bernstein, of that language poetry that translates deconstructionist theories in poetic language. The representative par excellence of poetic feminism, A. Rich, makes an important leap of perspective, passing from the explicit claims of women’s rights to the reflection on the decomposition and recomposition of the characters that are usually defined as masculine and feminine (An atlas of the difficult world, 1991).
In the context of multiculturalism, the ethnic group that stands out in terms of number and cultural influence is undoubtedly the African American. And if in the first half of the century the authors are almost exclusively male (such as L. Hughes, R. Ellison, J. Baldwin, R. Wright and LR Jones / A. Baraka), subsequent generations saw women, hitherto represented by individual and controversial figures such as ZN Hurston, take over leadership, a leadership questioned, perhaps, only by I. Reed’s fiction and by the solid historical dramas of A. Wilson. In the production of African American writers, the themes of racial marginalization merge with those of the war of the sexes. Following the example of G. Brooks, who combines the elegance of diction with the lucidity of sociopolitical commitment, African-American poetesses such as A. Lorde (The marvelous arithmetics of distance, posthumous, 1993) elaborate new ways of language; N. Giovanni (Sacred cows, and other edibles, 1988); Ai (Florence Ai Ogawa: Sin, 1986), whose work is greatly influenced by her mixed ethnic ancestry (Japanese, African American, Amerindian, Irish). ● The author of reference, in poetry (Possessing the secrets of joy, 1992) as in fiction (The color purple, 1982), is A. Walker, while African American oral culture finds greater echo in the fiction of T. Morrison, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 (Beloved, 1987; Paradise, 1998; A mercy, 2008). 10.4 Theater. Contemporary theater, having overcome the divisions between commercial theater and avant-garde theater that had contrasted the Broadway scene with the off scene and then both with the off-off-Broadway scene, is characterized by an extremely heterogeneous character. Leading authors are S. Shepard and D. Mamet, to which we can add J. Guare (Six degrees of separation, 1990), D. Rabe, and again L. Wilson, A. Innaurato, H. Fierstein, who have made with great expressive force the drama of the homosexual condition. The theater still traditionally spoken by A. Miller and E. Albee (author of a classic of contemporary theater such as Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf ?, 1962) finds its counterpart in the collective experiments, centered above all on stage work, of the groups directed by R. Foreman, R. Wilson, P. Schumann. The successes and failures of feminism are relived in all their ambiguous complexity in the texts of authors such as W. Wasserstein, T. Howe, M. Norman, B. Henley, E. Mann, E. Ensler (the most famous thanks to works such as The vagina monologues, 1996, and The good body, 2005).