The Game-Show Families of Salinger, Wallace, and Anderson
Round Three features a detailed study of three works by three major American authors who not only make game shows central plot devices but also create familial relationships among the game show producers and contestants, transforming all conflicts over the game show into family conflicts. These “quiz-show families” blend the most intimate relationship, the family, with the least intimate kind of human interaction, the game show, in order to interrogate how people connect with each other (or not) in an image culture. J. D. Salinger’s Glass Family saga, David Foster Wallace’s story “Little Expressionless Animals,” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Magnolia exploit the insincere nature of the game show to make sincere assertions about everyone’s similarities as wounded humans. Where one might expect these prophets of sincerity to find nothing but cynical grins and cheesy puns, they instead use game shows to affirm their commitment to radical authenticity by finding moments of compassion and transcendence in the emptiest of places, offering a glimpse of a new way of living in the Land of the Game Show.
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