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Love Is Not a Game

Waning American Power and the End of Neoliberalism in Peter Mountford’s ‘A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism’

Leerom Medovoi

Pages 177 - 192


This essay considers Peter Mountford’s novel ‘A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism’ as a recent work of ‘world-system literature’ focused on the subjective implications of new hemispheric relations in the Americas. In particular, it argues that the limits of neoliberal rationalchoice subjectivity explored in this novel are inextricable from its representation of declining U.S. hegemony in Latin American since September 11, 2001. The novel brings these themes together by pitting a maternal oedipal narrative against the demands of rational choice theory. Despite its appearance as a superficial rationalism, the protagonist’s game theory logic reveals itself as a symptomatic effect of past trauma, a reference to the shock therapy that was applied to Chile in particular, and Latin America more generally, in the U.S. backed dictatorships of the seventies. Mountford’s novel, read in this light, reveals itself as a global allegory about the rise and fall of U.S. power, and the squandering of opportunities for new kinds of political solidarity that are perhaps associated with this historical juncture.


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