|dc.description.abstract||American Literary Minimalism stands as an important yet misunderstood stylistic movement. It is an extension of aesthetics established by a diverse group of authors active in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that includes Amy Lowell, William Carlos Williams, and Ezra Pound. Works within the tradition reflect several qualities: the prose is “spare” and “clean”; important plot details are often omitted or left out; practitioners tend to excise material during the editing process; and stories tend to be about “common people” as opposed to the powerful and aristocratic. While these descriptors and the many others that have been posited over the years are in some ways helpful, the mode remains poorly defined.
The core idea that differentiates American Minimalism from other movements is that prose and poetry should be extremely efficient, allusive, and implicative. The language in this type of fiction tends to be simple and direct. Narrators do not often use ornate adjectives and rarely offer effusive descriptions of scenery or extensive detail about characters’ backgrounds. Because authors tend to use few words, each is invested with a heightened sense of interpretive significance. Allusion and implication by omission are often employed as a means to compensate for limited exposition, to add depth to stories that on the surface may seem superficial or incomplete.
Despite being scattered among eleven decades, American Minimalists share a common aesthetic. They were not so much enamored with the idea that “less is more” but that it is possible to write compact prose that still achieves depth of setting, characterization, and plot without including long passages of exposition. Like the haiku poets who stand among their influences, they draw attention to their art rather than themselves. In other words, precision and craftsmanship transcend the allure of egoism. Writers working within the tradition did not invent new techniques but rather used a unique combination of storytelling methods to an extreme degree. When successful, their stories and novels evoke an intellectual and emotive richness not readily apparent at first glance.||