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Tales of the Floating Class — Norman M. Klein

Tales of the Floating Class — Norman M. Klein




Softcover, 328 pages
6 1/2 x 8 inches
Norman M. Klein
Golden Spike Press

This collection reveals shared ironies in the arts and urban culture over the past 50 years. It studies the amnesiac effects of globalization upon the narrative structure of television, video, animation, photography, and installation art. It also explores the shapeshifting that has overwhelmed cities and entertainment spaces. Using Los Angeles and the West as one focal point, various case studies trace the growth of the Floating Class, an expression from the late 19th century about the outliers who would mill around city parks, crowding the rallies, while listening to rabble-rousing public speakers. The sites were also known as bughouse squares because they sponsored extreme haranguing of all sorts. In earlier centuries, many had been fairgrounds for vendors selling artisanal goods. After 1850, they became a sounding board for the new city, even for avant-garde movements across the arts.

Today, the Floating Class exists more internally, for example, in vigilante social networks. Its precarious numbers have grown a hundred-fold. They suffer the mad indignities of a gig economy, and neo-feudal indenture. They try not to feel caught like wild salmon in Trump's hair.

Klein writes in comic flourishes that layer fact and fiction, and that is because the line between the real and the imaginary has blurred radically inside the comic picaresque that defines our history today. Featured are 22 essays and fictions that have been reedited from their original published version.


Norman M. Klein is a cultural critic and historian. Much of his work deals with cities, media and political history.