Letter Bomb

"It began as a study of literature about nuclear holocaust, that is, as a study of what literature could 'tell' us about nuclear holocaust and our reactions to its suspended potential. The nature of the telling itself was always, of course, in the foreground –but so complicated was this nature where the nuclear referent was concerned that the question soon generated another, its reversed mirror image: the book became a study of what the nuclear referent could tell us about literature."

–from the introduction

A significant and lively contribution to the growing field known as nuclear criticism, Letter Bomb explores the tensions that exist among such writers as Derrida, Lacan, Girard, Blanchot, and Bloch. Far from reconciling those tension, Letter Bomb sets out to exacerbate them. Works by Russell Hoban, Thomas Pyncheon, Bernard Malamud, Denis Johnson, Tim O'Brien and others become a sort of testing ground of nuclear theory. "Letter Bomb," says Schwenger, "is a package that is meant to explode."

"I read Letter Bomb with pleasure. It is a highly personal study, written more like an essay or a meditation than a traditional academic book. Peter Schwenger raises important issues and offers excellent readings of noncanonical contemporary novels. He also tackles some of the most formidable French critics. Letter Bomb is a very special work."

--Ora Avni, Emory University