Introducing the future of literature today: “hipster lit.” The New Yorker‘s Macy Halford discovered the new section at the Sag Harbor location of Hamptons bookstore chain Bookhampton. Since the definition of a hipster is perpetually elusive (wears jean cut-offs… likes “indie” things…), it’s fascinating to see what the east end elite have drummed up for those scruffy little gentrifiers.
Turns out hipsters are really into George Saunders, Arthur Rimbaud, Billy Collins, Herman Hesse, Jose Saramago, Paul Auster, and a host of other (mostly) white men. Yeah, as the New Yorker points out, women are not in the canon that is hipster lit. Putting aside the fact that if Billy Collins and Arthur Rimbaud ever met in a bar, one would probably light the other one on fire with disgust, creating a book section catering to a somewhat nebulous social phenomenon invites all sorts of raised eyebrows, ridicule, and scorn.
It’s bad enough that in some bookstores, the “African-American literature” section will juxtapose Richard Wright with titles like “Baby Doll” and “Deadly Tease” (not trying to knock urban fiction here, just saying that it’s not quite Richard Wright) while inviting cynics to ask why the likes of Wright, Ellison, and Baldwin need to be partitioned off from the regular “literature” section. As of right now, this new hipster section looks like it was created by a women-hating, or at least women-ignoring, Norman Mailer acolyte.
Will hipsters, whoever they may be, buy from the hipster lit section? Or will they realize, upon checking their hipster membership cards, that they may only purchase Dave Eggers-influenced literature and listen to Spencer Krug side projects and chillwave, hop the LIRR to return to their hipster enclaves and purchase books at bookstores with more “indie” cred? The New Yorker ultimately endorses the hipster lit section because “hipsters like good literature.”
In other news, Bookhampton has also created a new “New Yorker-readers lit” section that contains novels about overpriced coffee and the adventures of mothers traveling to pick up their kids from Dalton.