Samuel Beckett’s Legacies in American Fiction provides an overdue investigation into Beckett’s rich influences over American writing. Through in-depth readings of postmodern authors, Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster and Lydia Davis, this book situates Beckett’s post-war writing of exhaustion and generation in relation to the emergence of an explosive American avant-garde. In turn, this book provides a valuable insight into the practical realities of Beckett’s dissemination in America, following the author’s long-standing relationship with the countercultural magazine Evergreen Review and its dramatic role in redrawing the possibilities of American culture in the 1960s. While Beckett would be largely removed from his American context, this book follows his vigorous, albeit sometimes awkward, reception alongside the authors and institutions central to shaping his legacies in 20th and 21st century America.
Everyone knows Beckett’s influence is global, but this is the first study to examine his influence on fiction in America with the thoroughness the topic deserves. It is a fresh, lucid, and necessary book, which sheds fascinating new light not just on Beckett but on postmodernism and its legacy.
Bran Nicol, Professor of English Literature, University of Surrey
James Baxter has achieved brilliant new insights about Beckett's legacy by carefully tracing some of the contexts and engagements created by his presence in American writing. This book has important implications, not just within the fields of Beckett Studies and modern American fiction, but also more broadly with regard to thinking about literary influence.
Professor Steven Matthews (University of Reading)