Macho Literary Culture


Kingsley Amis all but disappeared from the American literary consciousness after his death. Many of his novels were not even available stateside after their initial publication, although a new line of reprints is changing that. However, The New Republic asks whether American readers can handle Amis, a masculine, writer-as-worker persona:

With his talk of product and workbenches, Amis is trying to create the image of the writer as an ordinary worker, to dispel art’s associations with foppishness and pretentiousness and self-aggrandizement. These associations were evidently painful to Amis—but why? It is as though, in the modernist possibilities of the short story, he perceived a threat both to his masculine and his writerly identity; yet for a generation of American male writers emerging contemporaneously with Amis, the short story was a sort of “working man’s”—indeed almost a macho—form.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →