Common People: Class And The 80s

In the 1970s it was unusual to see wealthy families on television. The Jeffersons with their deluxe apartment in the sky, the occasional rich couple flitting over to “Fantasy Island” or booking a cruise on “The Love Boat”—these were the exceptions. But as the economy accelerated, mass culture was suddenly inundated with images of affluence. The wave hit around 1981, as the economy slowly recovered from the stagnant wages and inflation of the 1970s. Rabbit Angstrom, John Updike’s scampering everyman, began to make serious money on his appreciating property and selling Toyotas on his father-in-law’s lot in Rabbit is Rich; Joan Collins joined the cast of “Dynasty” as the splendid and venomous Alexis; and the second edition of The Official Preppy Handbook came out, gently mocking but also instructing a peculiar subculture of well-coiffed, pastel-hue wearing teenagers who wanted to look as if they summered on Cape Cod and worked on Wall Street.

Nobody Wins

PULITZER prizes are better known for honoring American journalism than fiction. Their heft in literary circles is far outweighed by the Nobel prize or MacArthur Fellowship. Yet the Pulitzer remains one of the few literary honours that can substantially increase an author’s sales in America. The Pulitzer prize for fiction last year boosted sales of Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by an order of magnitude. Publishers had been keen on a similar revenue injection this year, in light of disappointing sales and a looming (and costly) anti-trust decision on digital rights.

The Q & A: Lorin Stein

This month editorial control of the Paris Review, a pre-eminent American literary magazine, changed hands from Philip Gourevitch to Lorin Stein, now a former senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux (and an occasional contributor to this magazine). While at FSG, Stein made his name finding and refining such authors as Elif Batuman, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Sam Lipsyte, Richard Price and James Wood. He also worked on FSG’s recent translations of fiction by Roberto Bolaño and personally translated from the French “The Mystery Guest” by Gregoire Bouillier… [LINK]

WHITNEY’S TEPID BIENNIAL

Jennifer Jackson Hutchins
Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Couch For a Long Time, 2009
Sleet spattered over VIPs queuing outside for the opening of the Whitney Biennial on February 23rd. We suffered in silence, in darkness, our conversations drowned by the monastic groaning of an outdoor installation that cast an eerie blue hue. Dumpling trucks prowled and rogue cameramen interviewed some on a scrap of red carpet. We inched along as the storm intensified, sentries sifting us into various purgatories….[link]

AN ARTFULLY DISJOINTED VENICE BIENNALE

In its 114 years, the Venice Biennale has grown from a small festival organised by a local city council into one of the most dense and most important agglomerations of contemporary art the world has ever seen. The 53rd Venice Biennale crams 77 national pavilions and 38 collateral shows into the traditional Giardini (gardens) and Arsenale (shipyards). Counter-festivals have sprung up beyond the official boundaries, and there is even an Internet Pavilion…[LINK]

stefano meneghetti
stefano meneghetti