Storify of #bookhour chat on GOLD FAME CITRUS by Claire Vaye Watkins

#Bookhour is an open forum twitter discussion between scholars and the public that takes place the last Tuesday of the month unless otherwise stated. Find out more here. On 28th March 2017,  USSO hosted a #bookhour to discuss Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold Fame Citrus (2015). During the discussion Dr Iain Williams, Pat Massey, Hollie … Continue reading

Storify of #bookhour chat on THE MANDIBLES by Lionel Shriver

October 2016 marked our two year anniversary of #bookhour, and to celebrate this ongoing feature former U.S. Studies Online co-editor Michelle Green hosted a discussion of ‘financial crisis dystopia’ The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver with a panel of US and UK researchers. During the discussion Dr Kirk Boyle, Amy Bride, Sarah McCreedy and Michelle Green discussed Shriver’s depiction of material culture, emotions and capitalism, and to what extent the novel is a dystopia or plays with dystopian tropes. Debates arose around how self-conscious Shriver’s novelistic writing is, and if the novel is a Libertarian Candide or postmodern parody. The panellists ended the discussion by returning to The Mandibles as a neonaturalist novel, and left the chat asking, do the Mandibles achieve their capitalist utopia, and is a capitalist utopia achievable? Continue reading

Storify for #bookhour chat on ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW by Nathaniel Rich

On Tuesday 30th August 2016, Dr Arin Keeble and Dr Lieven Ameel (with questions from Dr Sebastian Groes) joined #bookhour organiser Christina Brennan to discuss Odds Against Tomorrow (2014) by Nathaniel Rich. The discussion explored themes of visibility and time in relation to large-scale environmental decline and climate change. The conversation considered questions relating to ‘slow violence’ and its framing devices in contemporary literary; state complacency in the face of climate change; and the representation of disaster after 9/11. Other themes included questions of individual agency in the aftermath of environmental catastrophe and the ethics of prediction and algorithms in monitoring disaster. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour on HYSTOPIA by David Means

On Tuesday 2nd August 2016, Dr Dorothy Butchard, Dr Ciarán Dowd, Dr Deirdre Flynn, and Dr Dan King joined #bookhour organiser Dr Diletta De Cristofaro to chat about David Means’ Hystopia, in the longlist for the Man Booker Prize 2016. The discussion focused on the form of the novel, both in its postmodern nested narratives and framing devices, and in its various story arcs; on the relationship between alternate history and trauma, as well as on that between individual agency and state intervention; and, finally, on the text’s use of Baudrillardian tropes and its problematic depiction of women. Continue reading

Storify of our #BOOKHOUR on ZERO K by Don DeLillo

On Tuesday 31st May, Dr Kasia Boddy, Dr Catherine Gander, Dr Doug Haynes, Dr David Hering, and Professor Mark Osteen joined guest #bookhour organiser Rebecca Harding to discuss Don DeLillo’s Zero K. The discussion explored the way themes from DeLillo’s earlier fiction resurface in the novel, and the effect of this reusing of material. The conversation also focused on the presence of various art forms in the text and DeLillo’s continuing interest in visual art in his work. Questions were also raised about the success of the novel’s narrative techniques, and the role of humour, capital, and political elements in the text. Continue reading

Storify of our #Bookhour on ON SUCH A FULL SEA by Chang-rae Lee

On Tuesday 5th April, Dr Andrew Tate, Dr David Bell, Dr Louise Squire and #bookhour organiser Dr Diletta De Cristofaro discussed Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea. The chat focussed on the defamiliarisation produced by the first-person-plural narration, on how the novel negotiates between the collective and the individual, on acts of resistance as well as the notions of utopia and hope within the text, on the narrative’s extrapolation from present circumstances and on what this extrapolation may suggest in terms of current ecological issues. Catch up on the chat in the storify here. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour on SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD by Yuri Herrera

February’s #bookhour marked the first of Twitter chat of 2016. Donna Alexander hosted a discussion of Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman. She was joined by Dr Francisca Sánchez Ortiz, Dr Laura Smith, and Lisa Dillman. They considered a range of issues including, the myth of emptiness, the allegory of the underworld and how this worked with Mesoamerican mythologies alluded to by Herrera. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour on THE HEART GOES LAST by Margaret Atwood

During November’s #bookhour, Sam Cooper, Terri-Jane Dow, Dr Karma Waltonen, and #bookhour organiser Dr Diletta De Cristofaro discussed Margaret Atwood’s latest dystopia, The Heart Goes Last (2015). The chat considered the satiric aspects of Atwood’s novel, the characters, and the narrative focalisation – elements which sparked debates around the believability of the plot. The discussion also focussed on the notions of utopia and dystopia, on the role of surveillance and desire in the Positron Project, on the economic crisis and the text’s suburban imagery. Check out the storify here. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour chat on THE WATER MUSEUM by Luis Alberto Urrea

During September’s #bookhour discussion, Dr Gwen Boyle, Dr Laura Smith, Dr Mila Lopez-Paleaz Casellas and #boohour organiser Dr Donna Maria Alexander conversed about The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea. The stories in Alberto’s collection gave way to a discussion about the range of genres and styles evident across the collection, from cli-fi to magical realism, and how these genres and styles reflect on the themes of environmental destruction, borders, loss and disappearance. Check out the storify here. Continue reading