THE TOPIC: Through a career spanning a brief two decades, David Foster Wallace was primed to assume the mantle of the Next Great American Writer from postmodern icons such as Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, John
Barth, and Donald Barthelme.
In taking time as such a relevant category in postmodern fiction, he departs from Fredric Jameson's influential formulation of the postmodern as "a present unable to think of itself historically," while casting doubt on Einstein's suggestion that "the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking." His subjects include the writing of Thomas Pynchon, John
Barth, Robert Coover, David Foster Wallace, Donald Barthelme, Don DeLillo and Richard Powers.
In the opinions of some ivory tower denizens, he moved beyond the abstruse postmodernism of Thomas Pynchon, John
Barth, and Don DeLillo--American novelists who seemed to own the future of the canon in the 1970s and '80s.
Elias is at her best when analyzing individual novels (by a series of so-called First World authors including Thomas Pynchon, John
Barth, Ishmael Reed, Leslie Marmon Silko, Charles Johnson and Charles Frazier) as illustrations of this paradox.
When Michiko Kakutani won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for critical writing, the New York Times congratulated her on her brilliant reviews during the year of Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, John
Updike, and Don DeLillo.