Today on the LA Times Blog, an Essential Postmodern Reading list.
It's a list of fine books, but the definition for postmodern apparently at use here is no definition at all, the criteria being considered are no criteria at all. Consider this: "Postmodern books have a reputation for being massive tomes, like David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" -- but then there's "The Mezzanine" by Nicholson Baker, which has just 144 pages."
Come on. Length doesn't have any place being used to determine from what movement a literary work springs.
But the worst: And while postmodern books would, you'd think, have to be published after the modern period -- in the 20th or 21st centuries -- could postmodernism exist without "Tristram Shandy"? We think not.
"You'd think." Yeah, I would. Call me a stickler or, worse, call me a structuralist but nothing can be postmodern that was produced prior to the existence of modernism. What's happening in this list is what happens all the time, "postmodern" is being used to mean "quirky" or "weird." Wrong.
I'll set everything straight soon, I had a definition of postmodern that I find very functional that has shut down a few debates in the past. I just have to remember exactly what that definition was. Give me a minute.