A few reactions to Tuesday’s Bookforum-sponsored event featuring Walter Benn Michaels trying to convince David Simon, Susan Straight, and Dale Peck that American literature is off the rails because there’s not enough poverty in it, or something:
“The animated exchanges…demonstrated how everything Benn Michaels said could be totally right, as far as it went, yet be achingly incomplete.”
“David Simon got excited for a second while making the point that slavery DOES TOO STILL EXIST, HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE GAS STATION BY MY HOUSE, but that line of thought was pretty quickly abandoned.”
Michaels: “The majority of poor people in America are white. They’re not victims of racism. They’re victims of capitalism. The one thing no one wants to talk about is capitalism.”
None of the reports convince me that Michaels is being anything besides a little doofy and a lot willfully provocative, or that he’d be satisfied with any novel you’d recommend to him.
Better to just read a sensible commentary on the current primacy of historical novels.
Dinaw Mengestu‘s The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears a novel set in Washington D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood before it was revived by the city’s housing boom, has been adapted for the stage. It premieres tonight. In Seattle.
A scene from the funeral for Minnesota author Bill Holm: “Bill was laid out in his coffin with Bach sheet music and Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass’’ in his hands.”
Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher weighs in on the closing of College Park, Maryland, store Vertigo Books: “When a big company goes away, a Circuit City or a big bank, for example, the local impact is relatively minimal–some workers lose their jobs, but the effect is regional or national in scope. But when a small local business dies, we lose a chunk of ourselves, a piece of the thing we call community, the reason we live wherever we might live.” The store’s “Wake & Potluck” is tomorrow evening.