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Conspiracy and Paranoia in Contemporary American Fiction

The Works of Don DeLillo and Joseph McElroy

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Steffen Hantke

Under the influence of Thomas Pynchon, a generation of postmodern American writers has explored the theme of conspiracy and paranoia, its origins in contemporary American culture, and its political and ideological ramifications. This intense preoccupation with paranoid forms of conceptual organization has helped critics to represent postmodernism as a coherent phenomenon and define it as a period. While for many readers the assumption of periodic homogeneity is still valid, postmodern fiction has, in fact, been diversifying rapidly in the course of its development over the last 20 years. In the works of Don DeLillo and Joseph McElroy, a new set of narrative premises, which mark a significant paradigmatic shift within postmodern American fiction, has begun to emerge from the dialogic interplay with Pynchonesque paranoia.

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Works Consulted 180

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180 Works Consulted Aaron, Daniel. "How to Read Don DeLillo." Introducing Don DeLillo. Ed. Frank Lentricchia. Durham/London: Duke University Press, 1991. 67-83. Aldridge, John. The American Novel and the Way We Live Now. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. 53-59. Asimov, Isaac. Foundation. New York: Ballantine, 1951. Barthes, Roland. S/Z. New York: Hill & Wang, 1974. ---. Mythologies. New York: The Noonday Press, 1972. Barton Fink. Writ. Joel and Ethan Cohen. Dir. Joel Cohen. Prod. Ethan Cohen. With John Turturro, John Goodman, and Judy Davis. Twentieth Century Fox. 1991. Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. New York: Serniotext(e), 1983. Bawer, Bruce. "Don DeLillo's America." The New Criterion. 3. 8 (Aprill985): 34-42. Bersani, Leo. "Pynchon, Paranoia, and Literature." Representations 25 (Winter 1989): 99-119. Blaylock, James. The Paper Grail. New York: Ace, 1991. Bloom, Allan. The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished The Souls OfToday's Students. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987. Brandt, Bruce E. "Reflections of "The Paranoid Style" in the Current Suspense Novel." Clues: A Journal of Detection 3. 1 (Spring/Summer 1982): 62-69. Braudy, Leo. "Providence, Paranoia, and the Novel." Native Informant. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981. 619-637. Brockden Brown, Charles. Memoirs ofCarwin, the Biloquist. Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1926. Brooke-Rose, Christine. "The New Science Fiction--Joseph McElroy: Plus." A Rhetoric of the Unreal: Studies in narrative and structure, especially of he fantastic. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981: 268-288. Bryant, Paula. "Extending the Fabulative Continuum: DeLillo, Mooney, Federman." Extrapolations. 30.2 (1989): 156-165. ---. "Discussing The Untellable:...

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