The Stories of Holman Characters

John Holman

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Holman does not mention that his principal characters are African Americans, perhaps because white authors do not think it necessary to mention that their characters are white. The racial identity of Holman’s characters, along with much other factual information, has to be deduced from what the reader can see and hear.

Minimalism is effective because it forces the reader to grope for clues to understand what is going on. This forces active participation and ideally engages and absorbs the reader in the action of the story, even if the story does not contain any intensely dramatic events. Minimalism is also a sort of hyperrealism: It rarely deals with spectacular events, because such events are the exception rather than the rule in life and hence are unrealistic.

It is not common practice for minimalist authors to highlight their themes and meanings. These too have to be deduced from what the reader sees, hears, and vicariously experiences. Minimalist authors frequently are accused of writing mere “slices of life” or “vignettes,” terms that used to be anathema in critical circles but have lost some of their sting with the appearance of such fine minimalist writers as Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, and Holman.

It is significant—and amusing—that reviews of Holman’s Squabble, and Other Stories offered many different interpretations of the author’s themes and meanings. It seems as though readers are free to make...

(The entire section is 450 words.)