Hip Figures by Michael Szalay
A Literary History of the Democratic Party (Post*45)

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Hip Figures dramatically alters our understanding of the postwar American novel by showing how it mobilized fantasies of black style on behalf of the Democratic Party. Fascinated by jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, novelists such as Norman Mailer, Ralph Ellison, John Updike, and Joan Didion turned to hip culture to negotiate the voter realignments then reshaping national politics. Figuratively transporting white professionals and managers into the skins of African Americans, these novelists and many others insisted on their own importance to the ambitions of a party dependent on coalition-building but not fully committed to integration. Arbiters of hip for readers who weren't, they effectively branded and marketed the liberalism of their moment—and ours.

About Michael Szalay

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Michael Szalay is Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of New Deal Modernism (2000).
Published June 20, 2012 by Stanford University Press. 337 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Non-fiction

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Rabble-rouser Norman Mailer also received his share of criticism and adulation for his essay “The White Negro,” which cemented the Beat-era image of African-Americans as heroic prototypes to be held at arm’s length, worshiped for their musical prowess and allegedly innate sense of “cool.” Angst-r...

Apr 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Hip Figures: A Literary Histo...

Publishers Weekly

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Although the book falls short of proving that these novelists were "the most important political strategists of their time," it makes a persuasive case that white fantasies of "hip—"which Szalay (New Deal Modernism) sees as "a complex variant of the peculiarly American tradition of blackface mi...

Jul 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Hip Figures: A Literary Histo...

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