Bruce Benderson is a writer who loves the dirt of cities and narrates the lives of those who wear its grit. His writings in fiction and nonfiction have established him as a key figure for thinking about sexuality, class, and the shifting social and cultural circumstances of urban life — in New York, especially — since the 1960s. In this critical interview, Benderson discusses urgent political issues relevant to his practice as an author, including gentrification in New York and the decline in the critical currency of counterculture; his processes and practices as a writer of fiction; his authorial relation to cultures of poverty; and themes such as nostalgia, exploitation, opportunism, pleasure, negative effects, risk, and the enjoyment of difference. The interview was conducted live at the Trashing Performance symposium, during a day of discussions and lectures called “Mainstream and Underground,” at Toynbee Hall, London, on 27 October 2011.

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