“Where are you from?” is often the first or second friendly question we get when meeting new people. So to have literature intercede and do some of the work for us, essentially assigning responsibility for the identity of a state to a particular book, is a strange idea.
Even with the political agenda abbreviated to 140 characters, the political memoir still finds a way into the hearts and hands of the American voter. In fact, for the last 60 years, every winning presidential candidate has first published a book.
“Common Place” is essential reading, difficult, but exceptional. It leaves you trembling with guilt and fear and self-consciousness and an imperative to think through the relation your body has with persecuted and incarcerated bodies and, ultimately, whether that relation can be mobilized toward the collective attempt to make life livable.
In spite of the economic restlessness the recession caused, people did not want to be buoyed by their literature. Instead, they wanted to read about fictional societies doing things that were even worse than their own society was doing to them.