Book Notes: Patricia Ventura’s Neoliberal Culture

This would have been a great book. . . back in 1998. In 2012, when it was actually published, it’s quaintly outdated. The bibliography has Homi Bhabha (remember him?) but no Beck, McGuigan or Bauman. The author is convinced that the expression “welfare queen” is still constantly used on the news, Oprah’s book club still operates, and dumpster-diving as political resistance is super fresh. My guess is that it was one of those doctoral dissertations that took over a decade to be published as a book and grew old in the process. 

The introduction and the chapter on Las Vegas architecture were quite good, if not very original. But the chapters on welfare and war were so outdated and superficial that I barely got through them.

Also, this author loves to signpost. In the introduction, she says, “in chapter 3 I will discuss [copy-pasted sentence from ch. 3]”. In chapter 2, she reminds us “in chapter 3 I will discuss [the same copy-pasted sentence from ch. 3]”. When we finally get to chapter 3, she says, “in the first section of this chapter I will discuss [the same goddamn copy-pasted sentence that by now you know by heart]”.

If this is the first book you ever read in neoliberalism, it’s good enough. But if it’s not, do yourself a favor and read McGuigan instead. 

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