Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ten books that challenge what we think we know as "history"

Peter Dimock is the author of the novel, George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time.

For Publishers Weekly, he came up with ten "works of literature, written or published between the 1927 and 2001, whose authors seem intent upon jolting their readers into radical distrust of the conventional history that they had been given through which to experience their present," including:
Beloved by Toni Morrison

This novel puts an end to the perennial competition among American authors to award themselves, or to be awarded, the crown for having written “the great American novel.” Beloved puts an end to the competition not by winning it (although it may have done that too), but by refusing the competition itself as a limiting and stupid enterprise to begin with. History is not a vehicle for literature. What happens is what matters. Beloved ends this way: “This is not a story to pass on.... By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather. Not the breath of the disremembered and unaccounted for, but wind in the eaves, or spring ice thawing too quickly. Just weather. Certainly no clamor for a kiss. Beloved.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beloved also appears on Stuart Evers's top ten list of homes in literature, David W. Blight's list of five outstanding novels on the Civil War era, John Mullan's list of ten of the best births in literature, Kit Whitfield's top ten list of genre-defying novels, and at the top of one list of contenders for the title of the single best work of American fiction published in the last twenty-five years.

--Marshal Zeringue