Greil Marcus is really good at describing cultural artifacts and movements, the subtler the better, and he’s okay at writing history too (although mostly as a byproduct of cultural studies.) This book is only nominally about prophecy, though it starts out strong with material on John Winthrop, Abraham Lincoln, and 9/11. What could have been a really cool dive into literary history becomes a fairly unpleasant book about inconsequential and unconnected things. There is, for example, a 46-page chapter all about Bill Pullman’s face (the guy who played the President in Independence Day…) Although a lot of Marcus’s writing could be summed up as “throw strange language at the wall and see what sticks,” I think a lot of it winds up sticking. I can certainly recommend the first 40 pages or so of this book, and I love the UK cover. I’m also willing to admit that my unhappiness with this book might come from unfamiliarity with its subjects, since I’ve never seen Twin Peaks or read Dos Passos’ U.S.A., and so on.
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