March 25, 2007

Mortem for a Modernist

First, a little story:

Over Christmas break when I bought Postmortem for a Postmodernist I thought it was a little strange to have a whole novel on literary criticism. What a weird creation- people need hobbies. Then I read it before break ended because I thought Dr. Jerz told us to get a head start by reading the novel. Apparently, I was wrong because we're half way through the course...oh well. It was my venture into the wonderful world of literary criticism and I thought if all literary criticism forms would come in novel form, maybe they'd be more interesting to understand. I was, of course, wrong.

While I applaud Berger for disguising literary criticism as a novel (and appealing to all those die-hard lit critics out there), I'm not sure how much I actually gained by reading the novel in general. Other than the fact that Postmortem for a Postmodernist didn't make for much of a mystery, I wasn't very engaged in the postmodern part of the book. Sure, a lot of information was just "given" to the reader throughout about postmodernist (because yes, people just bring those things up in typical conversation...right...), but they were big "information drops" (CW term). I felt like I should be taking notes during my mystery novel.

Berger, Postmortem for a Postmodernist -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at March 25, 2007 9:37 PM | TrackBack

It's true, I didn't pick this text for its literary quality. The information drops are what's important in this case.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 27, 2007 5:59 PM

I think that the best part of the story is the final outcome. It is completely postmodernist, because it is not the answer that people were originally looking for, but it is an answer that provides something for the reader that we did not originally intend for. This story completely breaks away from the traditions of what a murder mystery consists of, which is one of the conventions of Postmodernism. Not to mention, he uses Postmodernism throughout his story in the characters' professions and ideas, which could be considered as ironic, but it is still very clever. I was really impressed by Berger's story, and even though the murder mystery may be disappointing at first, think of how many authors would use that in their story, and then appreciate it. Or don't, either way.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at March 28, 2007 9:28 AM

I think you are supposed to completely understand that the "literary merit" of this book is meant to satarize the postmodern way of thinking about literature. I think Americans tend to lean toward the superficial. I'm willing to bet that 3/4 of the students at SHU know the names of all the finalists on "American Idol," but less than a third probably know the name of their U.S. Congress Representative. (Look at me avoiding a gender-specific title!)

Posted by: Dave Moio at March 28, 2007 12:12 PM

(Applauding Dave on his avoidance of a gender issue... haha.)

I agree, Vanessa, about the information drops. Nothing I hate more in a story. Suddenly I should be studying instead of just reading to know what happens next...

I think I actually learned quite a bit about postmodernism from this text, however. Even though at some points I just thought the story could have been inserted around the textbook information he was presenting instead of trying to mask it, it was still semi-enjoyable.

Posted by: Karissa at March 29, 2007 2:13 PM
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