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February 9, 2008

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The Forbidden Fantasy of Utter Upeaval

This WaPo story by Hank Stuever is terrific, and weird, and a good example of that ripped-from-its-context thing the web does so well: I started reading it and had no idea what was going on. You’ll see what I mean.

Even when do you figure out what you’re reading, it never quite becomes normal. The story is totally fractured, almost impressionist — but to good effect. Steuver is a terrific writer, and his subject matter is sublime: American culture as it’s experienced in places other than New York and San Francisco. His book Off Ramp is terrific, and its subtitle says it all: “Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere.”

Posted February 9, 2008 at 8:07 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Books, Writing & Such, Briefly Noted, Journalism


This sort of gets to the old SF discussion, doesn't it? Imagining a new Great Depression is forbidden---in the normal world. Among us s'ficcionistas it's old hat. I disagreed with the old quote that pain forgotten is not pain any more. Pain not properly reimagined is not pain anymore. A good war novel makes you thrill to the power and the glory, envious of the experience, driven by the fact that "war gives us meaning." A really good war novel, however, makes you shudder with horror and cuddle a loved one---the charge handed to Vonnegut by his horrified hostess at the start of Slaughter House Five. If you really dive deep into pondering the Great Depression, I think you come up gasping for air, glad it might never happen again---and the lack of such diving on the part of much of the American elite is severely problematic for our economic policy.

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