MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Absolute Literary Materialism


In his recent New Yorker profile of the Scottish writer James Kelman, James Wood contends that the no-frills, “absolute materialism” of Kelman’s prose — which he likens to Karl Ove Knausgård’s obsessive detail over daily rituals — “is rarely boring”

… partly because, like Knausgård, he simply proceeds AS IF the subject matter were interesting; and partly because, in writing as in most areas, limitation increases focus, and tends to irradiate necessity as if it were a luxury. This is the principle of prison writing, both in the literal sense (“One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”) and in the figurative sense (Kafka’s allegories of imprisonment.

Filed under: aesthetics, literary criticism


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