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    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    On the new Walter Benn Michaels book

    I'll admit freely that I dearly love his Our America and have been known to use it to my own scholarly ends more than a little, but I have not yet read The Trouble with Diversity though everyone is talking about it.

    If you're curious, as I am, there's discussion everywhere. First, you may want to check out his essay in The Prospect, starting as it does with that famous literary exchange:

    “The rich are different from you and me” is a famous remark supposedly made by F. Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway, although what made it famous -- or at least made Hemingway famously repeat it -- was not the remark itself but Hemingway’s reply: “Yes, they have more money.” In other words, to Hemingway, the rich really aren’t very different from you and me. Fitzgerald’s mistake, he thought, was that he mythologized or sentimentalized the rich, treating them as if they were a different kind of person instead of the same kind of person with more money. It was as if, according to Fitzgerald, what made rich people different was not what they had -- their money -- but what they were, “a special glamorous race.”

    Then, go enjoy the tangled morass of debate:

    Alan Wolfe reviews it and so does Scott McLemee, Jen Chau of Racialicious and her commenters put the jacket thesis through the paces, Prometheus 6 reads more WBM, Kevin Drum is sympathetic to WBM's argument, as is 11D, while University Diaries tallies style points (not without depth), and Discriminations's John Rosenberg talks multiculturalism.

    But best of all is The Valve's book event on it, with luminaries galore, including Walter Benn Michaels himself. And Russell Arben Fox of In Medias Res responds to The Valve's series.

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