We are all entitled to our own hyperbole,
Montreal has made a fool of me
for the second last time.
I’m not suggesting we’re all losers
I’m insisting upon it.
In the early nineties, Beck sang 'I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me?' and changed everything. Suddenly, it wasn't so bad to be a nerd or an oddball; loser chic had begun.
Ten years later, after all the computer nerds have had the last laugh, Jon Paul Fiorentino turns to Thorstein Veblen's seminal social science text from 1899, The Theory of the Leisure Class. Veblen's book introduced to our culture the terms 'conspicuous consumption' and 'nouveau riche'; it identified a new demographic, the leisure class, and demarcated its position in culture. The Theory of the Loser Class, then, is an art manifesto for the aesthetics and ethics of loser culture.
If the Anthony Michael Hall character in The Breakfast Club wrote poems (and, deep down, you know that he did), they’d probably read a lot like The Theory of the Loser Class. Drawing on texts ranging from Thorstein Veblen’s groundbreaking The Theory of the Leisure Class to Star Wars (the nerd Bible) for inspiration, this carefully crafted suite of poems documents the tribulations and insecurities of everyone’s inner geek. Fiorentino maps the psychic territory of abjection across the shopworn spaces of suburban Winnipeg, where a landscape of aging strip malls, burned-out houses and living rooms littered with video-game consoles serves as a mirror to the inner states of urban ennui among the socially inept and the culturally vexed.
By turns compassionate, funny and filled with selfloathing, The Theory of the Loser Class is never without the possibility of redemption; ‘And if a loser falls,’ says the narrator of ‘Right in the Spine,’ ‘I feel it.’ The Theory of the Loser Class is the perfect soundtrack for the alienated and the hopeless.
'[Fiorentino's The Theory of the Loser Class is] a glamously designed, serious, wrenching tour de force of intellectual stamina and his signature brand of lyrical self-torture.'
'Fiorentino is smart and deft.'
– Globe and Mail
About the author
Jon Paul Fiorentino
Jon Paul Fiorentino’s first novel is Stripmalling (ECW, 2009). His most recent book of poetry is The Theory of the Loser Class (Coach House Books, 2006). He is the author of the poetry book Hello Serotonin (Coach House Books, 2004) and the humour book Asthmatica (Insomniac Press, 2005). His most recent editorial projects are the anthologies Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour (DC Books, 2003) and Post-Prairie — a collaborative effort with Robert Kroetsch, (Talonbooks, 2005).
Robert Kroetsch is a Canadian novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer. In his novel, The Words of My Roaring (1966), he began to use the tall tale rhetoric of prairie taverns. Both The Studhorse Man (1969), which won the Governor General’s Award, and Gone Indian (1973) call the conventions of realistic fiction hilariously into question.
In 2004, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.