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Cultural Obituaries: The Death of Boom Culture? Walter Benn Michaels with David Simon, Susan Straight & Dale Peck
Fiction in the Age of Inequality
Now that markets have proven a flawed index of our economic well being, our cultural life needs to look beyond the pat certainties of laissez faire ideology. Among the ills afflicting the American novel at the height of boom culture, Walter Benn Michaels argues, was a curatorial obsession with past oppressions from slavery to the Holocaust to memoir-style accounts of family abuse. Writers should now be asking less about what it meant to oppose the Holocaust, he contends, and more about what it means to support free trade.
David Simon, creator of The Wire, and Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon, join Michaels and novelist-critic Dale Peck to discuss the social vision of contemporary storytelling.
Walter Benn Michaels' most recent books are The Shape of the Signifier and The Trouble with Diversity. Recent articles include "Toutes les in galit's n'offensent pas le candidat Barack Obama" in Le Monde diplomatique and "The Death of a Beautiful Woman" in Interval(le)s.
Dale Peck is the author of nine books, most recently, Body Surfing, a novel, and Sprout, which is also a novel, but for teenagers. He teaches in the Graduate Writing Program of the New School.
David Simon's narrative non-fiction works Homicide and The Corner became an NBC drama and a HBO miniseries respectively and subsequently the HBO drama, The Wire. Most recently, Simon was a writer and executive producer of HBO's miniseries Generation Kill. Simon also writes for The New Yorker, Esquire and The Washington Post.
Susan Straight is professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Her fifth novel, Highwire Moon, was a National Book Award finalist and won the Gold Medal for Fiction from the San Francisco-based Commonwealth Club. Straight's other fiction includes The Gettin' Place and Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights.