Modern American Counter Writing
Beats, Outriders, Ethnics
Routledge – 2010 – 312 pages
The dissident voice in US culture might almost be said to have been born with the territory. Its span runs from Roger Williams to Thoreau, Anne Bradstreet to Gertrude Stein, Ambrose Bierce to the New Journalism, The Beats to the recent Bad Subjects cyber-crowd. In this new study, A. Robert Lee aims to explore those counter-seams of modern American writing that sit outside, or at least awkwardly within, agreed literary canons. Specifically, Lee analyses three recent literary branches in the tradition: a re-envisioning of the whole Beat web or circuit; a consortium of postwar "outrider" voices – Hunter Thompson to Joan Didion to Kathy Acker; and a latest purview of what, all too casually, has been designated "ethnic" writing.
"In the light of the ongoing debates being waged over the canon and multiculturalism, Modern American Counter Writing should prove an indispensable tool for those engaged in the practice of literary criticism, as well as anyone concerned with the way in which narrative interacts with society."
-- Gabrielle David, Phati'tude Literary Magazine, Vol. 2, issue No. 1, June, 2010
"Modern American Counter Writing is the work of a mature scholar whose essays reflect years of research and teaching; it builds on prior research, but is wholly original in its analysis and interpretation of texts, as well as its theoretically sophisticated approach to literary history and canon formation…Lee is also a good read: he wears his learning lightly and writes in an engaging style that promotes interest in the writers under discussion, especially those that may be new to the reader."
--Jennie Skerl, Beat Studies Association Review, Vol. 4, No.2, June 2010
"Lee shows that the power of literature lies in its ability to create and question, to build and discard, to nurture and counter, to finish and start again. In the hands of a gifted writer and scholar such as Lee, modern American counter writing shines on as we are reminded of what an absolute pleasure it is to read."
--Polina Mackay, European Journal of American Studies, Reviews 2011-1
Acknowledgments Introduction: Counter Writing Part I: Beats 1: Beat Canon, Beat Shadow Canon 2: Beat Speaking Women: Diane di Prima, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman 3: Black Beat: Performing Ted Joans 4: Beat International: Michael Horovitz, Andrei Voznesensky, Kazuko Shiraishi Part II: Outriders 5: Gonzo Scripts: Hunter S. Thompson 6: A View of One’s Own: Joan Didion 7: Pirated Texts: Kathy Acker Part III: Ethnics 8: Ethnics Behaving Badly: Texts and Contexts 9: Home and Away: US Poetries of Immigration and Migrancy 10: Out of the 1990s: Latino/a Un-bordering in US Fiction 11: A Western East: America’s China Poetry in Marilyn Chin, Russell Leong, John Yau and Wing Tek Lum 12: Insider, Outsider: Japanese America Writing Japan 13: Bad Boy, Godfather, Storyteller: Frank Chin 14: Manila Tropics: Jessica Hagedorn 15: Black South, Black Europe: William Demby 16: Rearview Mirrors: Gerald Vizenor Notes Index
A. Robert Lee, formerly of the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, is professor of American Literature at Nihon University, Tokyo.