Scandals and Abstraction: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s

Hardcover | January 13, 2015

byLeigh Claire La Berge

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The Long 1980s could be summed up handily in the annals of U.S. cultural history with the enduring markers of Ronald Reagan's presidency, Oliver Stone's film Wall Street, and Dire Straits's hit single "Money for Nothing." Despite their vast differences, each serves to underscore theconfidence, jingoism, and optimism that powered the U.S. economy throughout the decade. Mining a wide range of literature, film, and financial print journalism, Scandals and Abstraction chronicles how American society's increasing concern with finance found expression in a large array of culturalmaterials that ultimately became synonymous with postmodernism. The ever-present credit cards, monetary transactions, and ATMs in Don De Lillo's White Noise open this study as they serve as touchstones for its protagonist's sense of white masculinity and ground the novel's narrative form. Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities and Oliver Stone's Wall Streetanimate a subsequent chapter, as each is considered in light of the 1987 stock market crash and held up as a harbinger of a radical new realism that claimed a narrative monopoly on representing an emergent financial era. These works give way to the pornographic excess and violence of Bret EastonEllis's epochal American Psycho, which is read alongside the popular 1980s genre of the financial autobiography. With a series of trenchant readings, La Berge argues that Ellis's novel can be best understood when examined alongside Ivan Boesky's Merger Mania, Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal, andT. Boone Pickens's Boone. A look at Jane Smiley's Good Faith and its plot surrounding the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, concludes the study, and considers how financial reportage became a template for much of our current writing about of finance.Drawing on a diverse archive of novels, films, autobiographies, and journalism, Scandals and Abstraction provides a timely study of the economy's influence on fiction, and outlines a feedback loop whereby postmodernism became more canonical, realism became more postmodern, and finance became adistinct cultural object.

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The Long 1980s could be summed up handily in the annals of U.S. cultural history with the enduring markers of Ronald Reagan's presidency, Oliver Stone's film Wall Street, and Dire Straits's hit single "Money for Nothing." Despite their vast differences, each serves to underscore theconfidence, jingoism, and optimism that powered the U....

Leigh Claire La Berge is Assistant Professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York and the coeditor, with Alison Shonkwiler, of Reading Capitalist Realism.

other books by Leigh Claire La Berge

Reading Capitalist Realism
Reading Capitalist Realism

Kobo ebook|Apr 1 2014

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.21 × 6.3 × 0.79 inPublished:January 13, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019937287X

ISBN - 13:9780199372874

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Personal Banking and Depersonalization in Don DeLillo's White Noise2. Capitalist Realism: The 1987 Stock Market Crash and the New Proprietary of Tom Wolfe and Oliver Stone3. "The Men Who Make The Killings": American Psycho and the Genre of the Financial Autobiography4. Realism and Unreal Estate: The Savings and Loan Scandals and the Epistemologies of American FinanceCoda

Editorial Reviews

"For the economists Kiyotaki and Moore, money is 'strange stuff.' Financial monies, in the apparent opacity of their workings, seem yet stranger. La Berge brings clarity to the financial turn by way of the founding assumption that the material practices of an economy - options, futures,derivatives - traceably contain the logic of its aesthetic forms. A template text for those who would understand cultural change at the close of the American century, Scandals and Abstraction is theoretically informed and intellectually graceful. I learned from it even as I enjoyed it." --Richard Godden, author of William Faulkner: An Economy of Complex Words