Kmart realism

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Kmart realism, also termed Dirty realism is a form of minimalist literature found in American short fiction.[1] It is defined as "A literary genre characterized by a spare, terse style that features struggling, working-class characters in sterile, bleak environments".[2] These short stories "represent and reproduce the disintegration of public life [and] the colonization of private life by consumer capitalism".[3] John Gardner, in critical works such as On Moral Fiction, criticized this style using the term "brand-name fiction writers."

Notable Authors[edit]

Frederick Barthelme, brother of postmodern novelist Donald Barthelme, is noted for his use of Kmart realism in stories such as "Safeway" (The New Yorker, 1981).[4] In addition, Rachel Page, sister of noted postmodern poet Allen Page, has written works that follow the genre of "dirty realism".[5]

John Gardner considered novelist Anne Tyler to be part of this form of realism.[6]



  1. ^ Sodowsky, Roland. Studies in Short Fiction; Fall96, Vol. 33 Issue 4, p529, 529-540
  2. ^ Kmart Realism. Wordspy.
  3. ^ Clark, Miriam Marty. Studies in Short Fiction; Spring95, Vol. 32 Issue 2, 147-159.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Twitchell, James (2000). Lead Us Into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231115193. 
  6. ^ Gardner made this claim about Tyler in a creative writing workshop I took with him at SUNY-Binghamton in 1980.