What does it mean to be working-class in a middle-class world? Cynthia Cruz shows us how class affects culture and our mental health and what we can do about it -- calling not for assimilation, but for annihilation.
To be working-class in a middle-class world is to be a ghost. Excluded, marginalised, and subjected to violence, the working class is also deemed by those in power to not exist. We are left with a choice between assimilation into middle-class values and culture, leaving our working-class origins behind, or total annihilation.
In The Melancholia of Class, Cynthia Cruz analyses how this choice between assimilation or annihilation has played out in the lives of working-class musicians, artists, writers, and filmmakers — including Amy Winehouse, Ian Curtis, Jason Molina, Barbara Loden, and many more — and the resultant Freudian melancholia that ensues when the working-class subject leaves their origins to “become someone,” only to find that they lose themselves in the process.
Part memoir, part cultural theory, and part polemic, The Melancholia of Class shows us how we can resist assimilation, uplifting and carrying our working-class origins and communities with us, as we break the barriers of the middle-class world. There are so many of us, all of us waiting. If we came together, who knows what we could do.
About the Author
Cynthia Cruz is the author of six collections of poems: Dregs, How the End Begins, Wunderkammer, The Glimmering Room, Ruin, and Guidebooks for the Dead. Disquieting: Essays on Silence, a collection of critical essays on marginalization and silence, was published by Book*hug in 2019. Her first work of fiction, a novella, Steady Diet of Nothing, is forthcoming. She teaches at the City College of New York and in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University.
"This is a vital book, deeply personal and charged with the kind of wisdom and solidarity that only belongs to those who understand what it feels like to be overlooked and left behind." - Jim Gavin, creator of Lodge 49
"An unprecedented reckoning with class and poverty as it relates to creative life in the modern age. Cruz forges a merciful new footing to state what's long overdue: that many of us have been dying while we write, and that the sorrow of surviving poverty, if at all, is a grief finally named in this courageous and deeply true work." - Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous