A recent article in the New Yorker entitled “Working Titles” by Leslie Chang sets out to describe the phenomenon of “workplace novel” in China. These novels are intended to be a guide to the newly materializing rat-race that is State Capitalist China. Complete with sub-genres like “the Financial Novel” and the “Commercial Warfare Novel” these are stories that give concrete instruction to what is often an abstract and complicated affair, social climbing. I wondered what an American iteration of the genre would look like, if we would allow ourselves a fiction that doubles as how-to. Surely, many people watched the film Wall Street as a guide instead of a morality tale. So too The Savage Detectives teaches us how a poet behaves. Fiction does have the ability to teach. No one has ever doubted that. But could we accept bald didacticism?
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