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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Typical (1991) by Padgett Powell


Book Review
Typical (1991)
by Padgett Powell

   Padgett Powell is typically known as a writer from the "new South" or Southern literary tradition.  This is a line of literature essentially established by William Faulkner en toto, and then echoed by excellent writers like Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers.  Traditionally, this school was called "Southern Gothic" to indicate a level of creepiness that seems to go hand-in-hand with all the writers mentioned above.

  Powell, on the other hand, is more of a surrealist/post-modernist in the Donald Barthelme tradition, and Typical, which was his first collection of short stories, bears little in common with the other writers from the South, call it "Southern post-modernism."   Many of the short stories contained in Typical have little to no plot or even incident, characters go unnamed, statements go unexplained, none of it really makes sense but all of the stories carry an unabashed southern vibe, which extends to the outre practice of a white author using the word "Nigger" in more than one of these stories.

  I would have liked to get more out of Typical, and I would consider returning to Powell and going deeper into his fiction, but Typical didn't do it for me.

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