Boom and bust in twenty-first-century lit
IN THE FALL OF 2013 OR 2014, if not before, we’ll probably be reading a novel about Occupy Wall Street. What would such a book look like, and what would it tell us about money? You can bet the narrator will be omniscient and the telling panoramic. If half the action takes place in and around Zuccotti Park—where the hardened core of the cast squats, drumming, deliberating, echoing announcements—the rest will be scattered about the newsrooms, boardrooms, barrooms, and bedrooms of Manhattan, with excursions to Williamsburg or Long Island City or Hoboken, maybe even Staten Island, convenient by ferry, and surely suburbs to the north such as Greenwich, cradle of the 1 percent. But beyond journalistic attention to the protests’ throbbing center and the fissures extending up the avenues, how to dramatize it all?
A class-clashing love triangle would do it. A twenty-eight-year-old woman drifts down to the park. She’s radicalized in mind—what’s just about a system that’s saddled a hardworking designer like her with constant revolving credit-card debt and a mountain of student loans?—and in heart by an anarchist she meets at a people’s assembly. The trouble is she’s just started dating a dreamy hedge-fund manager, the sort of finance professional who keeps in touch with his roots by moonlighting on the weekends as a cabdriver with his grandfather’s medallion. (Did I mention his grandfather survived the Holocaust?) Over pillow talk, as he faults her new affinity group for insufficiently appreciating the dynamic possibilities of the meritocracy, she realizes just how
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