|About the Book|
The Trash Phenomenon looks at how writers of the late twentieth century not only have integrated the events, artifacts, and theories of popular culture into their works but also have used those works as windows into popular cultures role in the process of nation building. Taking her cue from Donald Barthelmes 1967 portrayal of popular culture as trash and Don DeLillos 1997 description of it as a subversive peoples history, Stacey Olster explores how literature recycles American popular culture so as to change the nationalistic imperative behind its inception.The Trash Phenomenon begins with a look at the mass medias role in the United States emergence as the twentieth centurys dominant power. Olster discusses the works of three authors who collectively span the century bounded by the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Persian Gulf War (1991): Gore Vidals American Chronicle series, John Updikes Rabbit tetralogy, and Larry Beinharts American Hero. Olster then turns her attention to three non-American writers whose works explore the imperial sway of American popular culture on their nations value systems: hierarchical class structure in Dennis Potters England, Peronism in Manuel Puigs Argentina, and Nihonjinron consensus in Haruki Murakamis Japan.Finally, Olster returns to American literature to look at the contemporary media spectacle and the representative figure as potential sources of national consolidation after November 1963. Olster first focuses on autobiographical, historical, and fictional accounts of three spectacles in which the formulae of popular culture are shown to bypass differences of class, gender, and race: the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Scarsdale Diet Doctor murder, and the O. J. Simpson trial. She concludes with some thoughts about the nature of American consolidation after 9/11.