A New Literary History of America

Interesting site here for A New Literary History of America, an 1100-page book composed of some 220 essays collected by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors.

The idea is to take the term literary fairly broadly; thus, Gish Jen writes on The Catcher in the Rye, and Ann Marlowe writes on the autobiographies of Linda Lovelace, the woman best-known as the “star” of Deep Throat:

Ordeal, the third of four autobiographies of Deep Throat porn star Linda Boreman (Lovelace), isn’t interesting because it’s a good book, a tragic one, or even an arousing one. Published in 1980, it’s interesting as an artifact of early feminism, just like Deep Throat in 1972, and because, again like Deep Throat, it raises endless questions about sincerity, pleasure, the public and the private, questions that floated in the air just a year later during the Watergate hearings, questions that still shape our culture.

Lovelace’s voice is the studiously bland voice we hear every day from politicians, in the smuggest of op-eds, in the passive-aggressive niceness of airline employees. Hypocrisy has always been with us, but the mimicking of the colorless tone of down-to- earth “good folks,” of what was once called Middle America, seems to have become prevalent after World War II. It was diagnosed in the earnest realist novels of the 1950s, and parodied in Catch-22, Mad magazine, and The Graduate (“Plastics!”).


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i can understand someone not thinking “the catcher in the rye” is the equal of some of the great literary masterpieces, say “war in peace” or “ulysses,” but i don’t agree with the implication that “the catcher in the rye” is only literary if we use the term broadly. salinger wrote lasting literature. you may not like it, but it is literature.

I was referring to Lovelace’s autobio.

my bad :) guilty of overreaction there

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