Carl White is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds. His work examines contemporary American fiction and financialization. His writing has been published in Textual Practice and Humanities, and he recently co-edited the WRoCAH Journal.

Book Review: Fictive Fathers in the Contemporary American Novel by Debra Shostak

‘Why is it’, Debra Shostak asks at the beginning of Fictive Fathers in the Contemporary American Novel, ‘that so many works of fiction of the last fifty years, especially those centring on relation within middle-class white families, are haunted by the figure of a father who […] fails his family or vanishes in actuality? […] What are the nature and sources of the originary image of paternal security and authority that cause disappointment, disruption, or trauma when an individual father falls short?’ (2). Powered by these questions, Fictive Fathers is centrally concerned with exploring the relationship that fathers have with fictionality. It explores the ‘double meaning embedded in the titular “fictive fathers”’: in one sense about the representation of fathers in recent fictional texts, but also how these texts narrate the ‘fathers for (and by) whom the pervasive construction of traditional white fatherhood in the United States is laid bare as illusory’. For Shostak, ‘this “fictive” fatherhood constitutes a myth, on the social plane, and a fantasy, on the personal plane’ (3). Continue reading

Book Review: Wallace’s Dialects by Mary Shapiro

Mary Shapiro makes the case for Wallace’s Dialects clearly on the first page: Wallace’s ‘inventive and poetic uses of language have been frequently praised, but little studied from a linguistic point of view’ (1). Shapiro’s book is a welcome addition to the field of Wallace Studies. Positioned as it is, Wallace’s Dialects has two clear distinctions as a monograph. First, this book focuses very notably on Wallace’s texts (both fiction and not) at the micro level, at the level of sentence. Particular word choices, even letter choices, are scrutinised across Wallace’s oeuvre. This is distinct from other monographs that more readily examine the structure of Wallace’s writing at the macro level.[i] Second, and relatedly, this tight focus at the level of sentence means that Wallace’s Dialects operates at the juncture of textual analysis and biography – a way of mediating between the effects of the writing and the conditions of that writing’s composition. This monograph closely reads the language to make conclusions about both texts and author. Continue reading