The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007 M08 21 - 336 pages

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.

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THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME: Prophecy and the American Voice

User Review  - Kirkus

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.The noted cultural ... Read full review

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User Review  - gregtmills - LibraryThing

At first blush, pop Zarathustra Greil Marcus's latest book, The Shape of Things to Come, looks like something cooked up by a Sarah Lawrence undergrad in an end-of-term panic. According to Marcus ... Read full review


New York Washington DC Pennsylvania
Massachusetts Washington DC
New Jersey California Washington Ohio
Philip Roth and the Lost Republic
Bill Pullmans Face
Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer
David Thomas
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About the author (2007)

Greil Marcus is the author of nine previous books, including The Old, Weird America and Like a Rolling Stone. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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