The Shape of Things to Come by Greil Marcus
Prophecy and the American Voice

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Synopsis

From the author of Mystery Train and Lipstick Traces, an exhilarating and provocative investigation of the tangle of American identity

"America is a place and a story, made up of exuberance and suspicion, crime and liberation, lynch mobs and escapes; its greatest testaments are made of portents and warnings, biblical allusions that lose all certainty in the American air." It is this story of self-invention and nationhood that Greil Marcus rediscovers, beginning with John Winthrop's invocation of America as a "city on the hill," Lincoln's second inaugural address, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech about his American dream. Listening to these prophetic founding statements, Marcus explores America's promise as a New Jerusalem and the nature of its covenant: first with God, and then with its own citizens. In the nineteenth century, this vision of the nation's story was told in public as part of common discourse, to be fought over in plain speech and flights of gorgeous rhetoric. Since then, Marcus argues, it has become cryptic, a story told more in art than in politics. He traces it across the continent and through time, hearing the tale in the disparate voices of writers, filmmakers, performers, and actors: Philip Roth, David Lynch, David Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Sheryl Lee, and Bill Pullman. In The Shape of Things to Come, the future and the past merge in extraordinary and uncanny ways, and Marcus proves once again that he is our most imaginative and original cultural critic.

 

About Greil Marcus

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Greil Marcus is the author of Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus, When that Rough God Goes Riding, The Shape of Things to Come, Mystery Train, Dead Elvis, In the Fascist Bathroom, Double Trouble, Like a Rolling Stone, and The Old Weird America; a twentieth anniversary edition of his book Lipstick Traces was published in 2009. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America, published last year by Harvard University Press. Since 2000 he has taught at Princeton, Berkeley, Minnesota, and the New School in New York; his column "Real Life Rock Top 10" appears regularly in The Believer. He has lectured at U Cal, Berkeley, The Whitney Museum of Art, and Princeton University. He lives in Berkeley.
 
Published August 21, 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 336 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Shape of Things to Come

Kirkus Reviews

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Prophets are among us, declares Marcus (Like a Rolling Stone, 2005, etc.): singing and making films, writing novels and poetry. But we rarely listen to them until it's too late.

Jun 24 2010 | Read Full Review of The Shape of Things to Come: ...

The New York Times

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The cultural critic Greil Marcus finds prophets among writers, musicians and actors.

Oct 01 2006 | Read Full Review of The Shape of Things to Come: ...

The Guardian

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The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice by Greil Marcus Faber £16.99, pp304 Greil Marcus stages cultural firework shows, dazzling displays of erudition and arcane connections (from Mott the Hoople to Moby Dick via John Dos Passos).

Sep 17 2006 | Read Full Review of The Shape of Things to Come: ...

The Guardian

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The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice by Greil Marcus (Faber, £12.99) Greil Marcus has always been able to discern something mystical and arcane in popular culture.

Aug 04 2007 | Read Full Review of The Shape of Things to Come: ...

Publishers Weekly

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Marcus plumbs the depth and breadth of American exceptionalism through his unique lens of cultural criticism, forging often astounding links between people, places, works of art and miscellaneous phenomena, as he has in most of his previous nine books.

Jun 05 2006 | Read Full Review of The Shape of Things to Come: ...

Entertainment Weekly

EW.com Entertainment Weekly Home TV Movies Music Books Family Style CapeTown TV Recaps American Idol Oscars 2013 Grammys 2013 Subscri...

Sep 08 2006 | Read Full Review of The Shape of Things to Come: ...

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