McDermott, James Dishon Books

Dr. James Dishon McDermott holds a doctorate in English and American Literature from the University of Virginia, where he taught writing and twentieth-century fiction. A full-time writer and editor, he is the author of a creative non-fiction book, A Comfortable Range.

Austere Style in Twentieth-Century Literature
2006 0-7734-5899-9
Throughout literary history, committed writers have sought to rebuke the inauthenticity of excessively ‘full’ discourses by deploying a minimalist literary style. In their texts, these literary minimalists substitute absence for those linguistic structures that are critical to the authority and integrity of the full text. In the postmodern period specifically, writers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Brautigan, Raymond Carver, and David Mamet have used this literary style of contextualized fearlessness as a means of criticizing and reforming philosophical, literary, social, or political practices perceived to be inauthentic by virtue of their wasteful foundationalism. Rather than merely diverting or reassuring the reader, each writer seeks to create edifying texts that not only raise doubts about essentialist platitudes but also alert the reader to the possibility of authentic self-transformation through a reckoning with contingency. In using an austere style to challenge a set of foundationalist discursive practices, Wittgenstein addresses metaphysical philosophy and its claims to logocentric Truth; Brautigan, the discourses of Beat writing and Abstract Expressionism and their claims to noncontingent selfhood; Carver, Reaganite propaganda and its claims to essentialist community; and Mamet, mass-media entertainment and its claims to cultural hegemony.