Sol Yurick

James Farmelant farmelantj at
Wed Nov 17 11:06:10 MST 1999

Sol Yurick achieved a brief moment of fame about 20 years
ago when his novel *The Warriors* which which was a kind
of fantasy about NYC street gangs coming together was
made into a movie.  He also as I recall wrote a fine introductory
essay to the Monthly Review Press edition of Chistopher
Caudwell's collection of essays *Studies in a Dying Culture*.

Jim Farmelant

On Wed, 17 Nov 1999 12:25:27 -0500 Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> writes:
>At 11:58 AM 11/17/99 -0500, Michael Yates wrote:
>>The issue of ironic writing and discussion has come up on various
>>lists.  We had an interesting discussion of this and related topics
>>night in my prison class.  The subject was the drug trade, a subject
>>about which my students knew a great deal.  The assigned article for
>>discussion was "The Political Economy of Junk," written by novelist
>>Yurick and published many years ago (1970, Dec. issue) in Monthly
>I haven't seen hide nor hair of Sol since the early '80s when I took a
>class on "Great Literature" with him at the Brecht Forum. This was one
>the most outstanding classes I've ever taken on or off campus,
>including my
>days in the SWP when I had a chance to study labor history with the
>guy who
>trained Jimmy Hoffa how to organize over-the-road truckers.
>Sol's survey basically looked at the canon from the point of view of
>ruling class attitudes are projected, from the Old Testament to
>Shakespeare. While much of the specifics are dimmed by the passage of
>I remember the general sense of glee I felt at seeing all the "great
>exposed as propaganda. I  suspect that Sol was being deliberately
>overstated and provocative, but he certainly had a way of making you
>at things critically.
>He wrote the classic 60s novel "Bag", which dealt with his experiences
>as a
>welfare worker. I too had put in some time with the Welfare
>which led to my radicalization in 1967. In more recent years, he had
>his attention to the sort of cyber-espionage thrillers that people
>William Gibson turned out, but with a lot more intelligence. I
>recommend "Richard", which deals with a plot to take over the world
>artificial intelligence.
>Here is an item from a conference sponsored by Brown University's
>"Unspeakable Practices":
>The death of avant-garde? Vanguard writers debate
>"New styles, new content, but also the ability to make straight
>tremble is gone," Sol Yurick tells "Unspeakable Practices" session
>By Richard P. Morin
>Novelist Sol Yurick leaned into the microphone and made a simple, yet
>powerful, statement: The avant-garde is dead. It was a peculiar
>given the fact that it was spoken during a vanguard narrative
>Yurick made his seemingly prophetic remark at last week's "Unspeakable
>Practices III," a literary conference constructed by Robert Coover,
>professor of English, which called together more than 40 writers from
>around the world for five days of readings, performances and symposia.
>Events included hypertext, cyberfiction and transoceanic readings, and
>conversations among American and British writers via a teleconference
>London. There were readings from major American, Spanish, Philippine,
>British and Latin American authors whose prose often pushed the bounds
>style and imagination. There was even an all-night finale filled with
>readings, performances and music.
>It seemed as if the avant-garde was alive and well.
>"What we used to call the avant-garde is dead," said Yurick at the
>symposium titled "Dumping the Century," a fin de siècle judgment of
>century's literary achievements and prospects for the next. "New
>new content, but also the ability to make straight society tremble is
>At the Oct. 3 session, Yurick asserted that there isn't the
>possibility for
>anything truly new in modern literature. "Everything is theme and
>variation," he said. "Are we in some way limited by biology?"
>The conference was co-sponsored by the Program in Creative Writing,
>Department of Hispanic Studies and the John Hawkes Fund.
>Louis Proyect
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