Riffraff Book Club

Fall 2018: Capitalism + the Individual

Our first themed series of book club discussions was entitled Capitalism + the Individual, an represented attempt to examine the ways that the complex and pervasive machinations of late capitalism affect the lives of normal people. The four books were:

Surveys, by Natasha Stagg (fiction)
Surveys follows a twenty-three-year-old woman with almost no attachments or aspirations for her life who suddenly attains ambiguous Internet stardom when she’s discovered by a semi-famous icon of masculinity and reclusiveness and swept into a new life of whirlwind parties and sponsored events.

Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl, by Tiqqun (non-fiction)
First published in France in 1999, Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl dissects the impossibility of love under Empire. The Young-Girl is consumer society’s total product and model citizen: whatever “type” of Young-Girl she may embody, whether by whim or concerted performance, she can only seduce by consuming. Filled with the language of French women’s magazines, rooted in Proust’s figure of Albertine and the amusing misery of (teenage) romance in Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurke, and informed by Pierre Klossowski’s notion of “living currency” and libidinal economy, Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl diagnoses—and makes visible—a phenomenon that is so ubiquitous as to have become transparent.

Rich and Poor, by Jacob Wren (fiction)
Rich and Poor is the story of a middle-class, immigrant pianist who has fallen on hard times, and now finds himself washing dishes to make ends meet. Wren capably balances personal reflections with real-time political events, as his protagonist awakens to the possibility of a solution to his troubles and begins to formulate a plan of attack, in which the only answer is to get rid of "the 1%."

Excess—the Factory, by Leslie Kaplan (poetry)
In 1968, the American-born French poet Leslie Kaplan went to work in a factory. She did so out of choice rather than necessity, part of a generation of Maoist établis, university-educated radicals who entered the factory in order to organize the working class. Excess—The Factory evokes the tumult of those years through an encounter with the serial violence of the assembly line, descending by way of infernal workshops to reach the dark center of capitalist accumulation.


To join, simply send us a note at info@riffraffpvd.com and read the book before the meeting! All book club titles are $1 off in advance of the discussions.