cover image Living in a World That Can’t Be Fixed: Reimagining Counterculture Today

Living in a World That Can’t Be Fixed: Reimagining Counterculture Today

Curtis White. Melville House, $24.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-61219-808-8

Novelist and social critic White (We, Robots) imagines counterculture as a sanctuary from the madness of a fractured world in this series of rousing essays. He traces the notion of counterculture back to the ethos of the 19th-century English Romantics (drawing inspiration from their rejection of a rigid class system), considers where society is now (with the country’s wealth in the hands of a few “oligarchs” and stagnating middle and lower classes), and posits where it is headed (facing, for example, climate change–based migration). One piece, titled “Counterculture Is Impertinent,” lambastes the entertainment industry’s blockbuster distractions and info-tainment news programs, advocating for work that pushes boundaries and makes the viewer uncomfortable (e.g., Jordan Peele’s Get Out over Disney’s politically complacent Black Panther). White truly hits his stride in excoriating late-stage capitalism’s many ills and identifying a light at the end of the tunnel: “In the process of pushing us away, techno-capitalism pushes us together,” and this creates “great undeveloped potential for democratic improvisation.” White is careful to warn in his introduction that this is not a “how-to” book, and indeed there are few practical solutions within its pages, but left-leaning readers will find this a refreshing reminder that all hope is not lost, even in a world that may seem irreparably broken. (Nov.)