The literary interests of friends DeLillo and Auster frequently converge, a kinship distinguished, as Dennis Barone notes, by “frequent portrayals of an ascetic life,” “obsessive characters,” and “a loss of the ability to understand.”1 As we have seen, both authors, in their early work, recognize their artistic prerogative in the last of these interests, a prerogative that defines the experimental aspect of postmodernism. Tim O’Brien, in his early work, writes of the same matters, the same character types, the same loss, but in his unpolished sincerity he serves as a counterpoint to their prerogative, their sense of what the Novel should be. However, just as the relationship with the reader implied by his social imperative and his referential use of language proves increasingly magnetic to DeLillo and Auster, their early extremes of flamboyance and isolationism continually attract O’Brien, threatening to compromise his work. Taken together, these authors epitomize the schizophrenic prospects of the contemporary novelist.