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Q&A | February 27, 2014 0 comments
Describe your latest book. The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty... Continue »
Greil MarcusDescribe your latest project.
The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice: Through the moral and political rhetoric of John Winthrop, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, America explained itself to itself as a field of promises so vast they could only be betrayed. The attempt to keep the promises of community, liberty, justice, and equality, for all, because once let loose the genie could never be put back in the bottle in the face of their betrayal became the engine of American history and the template for our national story.
Once this was the stuff of political speech; today, the real story is pursued in art: as I tell my part of the story, in the work of Philip Roth, Allen Ginsberg, David Lynch, in the faces and gestures of the actors Bill Pullman and Sheryl Lee, in the music of Corin Tucker's band Heavens to Betsy and of David Thomas, for more than thirty years the face of the band Pere Ubu. It's not a story where anyone ends up where he or she started out.
In 1975, Francis Coppola, then the new owner of the now long defunct San Francisco magazine City, demanded that as the TV columnist I review every movie on television every week: his friends wanted a guide, he said. This being pre-cable, it was doable, barely. I equipped myself with reference books on westerns, science fiction, spy movies, detective and crime movies, and spent one night a week deliriously writing about between 40 and 70 movies I hadn't seen plus a few I actually had. It was fun. It was a riot of self-referentiality. The game was to discover hidden patterns in the glut of everything from the 1930s B and C pictures the local minor channels had bought up for peanuts to classics to weird 1950s relationship dramas one week there might be a run on uncle-killings, either of or by. Two weeks later might find the same actor over the course of two decades lining out a passable autobiography not of himself, but of a composite character imprisoned in type-casting, yearning to breathe free.
The column was printed in the smallest possible type; I was sure no one was reading it; I've never encountered evidence to the contrary. I was writing in public and in secret at the same time. I could say anything and of course there was a chance that someday, someone, might notice, and... I have no idea. It might be the best writing I've ever done.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Name the best television series of all time.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old legend that died? That it changed your life, changed music history, hated the Beatles?"
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Books Where Critics Discover America (or make it up) (which amounts to the same thing):
I Lost It at the Movies by Pauline Kael
The Omni-Americans by Albert Murray
American Humor by Constance Rourke
Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
Suspects by David Thomson
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