A study of classic hard-boiled fiction and film in the contexts of narrative theories and American social and cultural history. The book integrates economic history, biography, consumer product design, narrative analysis and film scholarship.
The romantic idea of the writer as an isolated genius has been discredited, but there are few empirical studies documenting the role of "gatekeeping" in the literary process. How do friends, agents, editors, translators, small publishers, and reviewers-not to mention the changes in technologyand the publishing industry-shape the literary process? This matrix is further complicated when books cross cultural and language barriers, that is, when they become part of World Literature. Gatekeepers builds on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Randall Collins, James English, and Mark McGurl, describing the multi-layered gatekeeping process in the context of World Literature after the 1960s. It focuses on four case studies: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Charles Bukowski, Paul Auster and HarukiMurakami. The two American authors achieved remarkable success overseas owing to canny gatekeepers; the two international authors benefited tremendously from well-curated translation into English. Rich in archival materials (correspondence between authors, editors, and translators, and publishing industry analyses), interviews with publishers and translators, and close readings of translations, this study shows how the process and production of literature depends on the larger social forcesof a given historical moment. William Marling also documents the ever-increasing Anglo-centric dictate on the gatekeeping process. World Literature, the book argues, is not so much a "republic of letters" as a field of chance on which the conversation is partly bracketed by historic events andtechnological opportunities.
William Marling's provocative work analyzes-in specific terms-the impacts of American technology and culture on foreign societies. Marling answers his own question-how "American" is globalization?-with two seemingly contradictory answers: "less than you think" and "more than you know." Deconstructing the myth of global Americanization, he argues that despite the typically American belief that the United States dominates foreign countries, the practical effects of "Americanization" amount to less than one might suppose. Critics point to the uneven popularity of McDonalds as a prime example of globalization and supposed American hegemony in the world. But Marling shows, in a series of case studies, that local cultures are intrinsically resilient and that local languages, eating habits, land use, education systems, and other social patterns determine the extent to which American culture is imported and adapted to native needs. He argues that globalization can actually accentuate local cultures, which often put their own imprint on what they import-from translating films and television into hundreds of languages to changing the menu at a McDonalds to include the Japanese favorite Chicken Tastuta. Marling also examines the unexpected ways in which American technology travels abroad: the technological transferability of the ATM, the practice of franchising, and "shop-floor" American innovations like shipping containers, bar codes, and computers. These technologies convey American attitudes about work, leisure, convenience, credit, and travel, but as Marling shows, they take root overseas in ways that are anything but "American."
How can we rescue and nourish a sense of wonder? Especially if we live in chaotic and violent places like Beirut and New York City, which teach us to be skeptical? This is the problem that courses beneath the poems, prose, photos and art that William Marling composes in his seventh book. In work that ranges from Beirut, Middle America, and New York City to Eastern Europe, Paris, and painting, Marling is always alert to the fallibility of the senses, the small victories of innocence and wonder
Limiting his concern to the poet's early years, Marling stresses Williams' alliances with graphic artists during a period when he could find little support or solace from other writers. Marling discusses Williams' friendships, and shared aesthetics, with Marcel Duchamp, Marsden Hartley, Walter Arensberg, Charles Demuth, Charles Sheeler, and others, drawing from previously unpublished materials -- not only of Williams but of the artists. The first half of the study traces the relationships, the second connects Williams' writing of these years with aesthetic movements as germane to art as they were to painting.