Alissa Quart, author of Branded and Hot House Kids, is back with a new and insightful look at America's emerging subcultures. Now Quart, who Quiet author Susan Cain has called, "one of the smartest cultural interpreters of her generation" is back with Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers, and Rebels. Tracing the increasing impact of marginal culture on America's pop mainstream—from slow food, to Indie-rock, to gender-fluid activism—Quart shows the power and promise that outsiders bring to our increasingly interconnected world. She traces the stories of specific individuals and shows the enormous impact they have through what she calls " identity innovation," proving in the process that being "weird" can be a source of strength. Join us for an evening for exciting discussion about the changes taking place in our culture today!
Susan Cain joins Alissa Quart, for this very special conversation in our rare book room.
It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there's no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what's left.
Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics—carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people's bank accounts—without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mom—two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhood—till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler's aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.
With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where we've journeyed to since.
Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?
Hey. Who wants to know?
In conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Pico Iyer will unravel the mysterious communion he has always had with Graham Greene, illuminated now in The Man Within My Head. Iyer, at home nowhere, will examine the nature of his elective affinities with Greene—their shared restlessness and refusal to make a home in any faith, country or category.
Pico Iyer is the author of two novels and eight works of non-fiction, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul and The Open Road. He writes frequently for The New York Review of Books, Harper's, The New York Times and many other publications; his most recent articles have discussed the workers of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the power of stillness and the fiction of Somalia.