Author Peter Carey bemoans U.S. Tea Party boom

* New book is his first novel set in United States

* Booker Prize winner warns of ‘dumbing down’ of culture

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK, May 9 (BestGrowthStock) – Novelist Peter Carey warns against the
demise of American democracy and culture in his latest book, targeting
what he sees as factors that have led to rise of the conservative Tea
Party movement.

“Parrot and Olivier in America” is a fictional re-imagining of Alexis
de Tocqueville’s journey to America in the early 1800s, during which the
French political thinker examined the roots of America’s democracy.

It is the first book about the United States by Carey, the
Australian-born two-time Booker Prize winner.

Carey, who has lived in New York for about 20 years, explores
Tocqueville’s speculation that U.S. democracy could be at future risk of
tyrannical rule — and the coarsening of culture that would accompany it.

“Everybody knows that Tocqueville was concerned and worried and that
he feared the tyranny of the majority,” Carey said in an interview in New
York. “The other thing he talks about is culture, about the great
dumbing-down of our culture.”

Carey, who is the executive director of the Master of Fine Arts in
Creative Writing program at Hunter College in New York, gripes that while
people may have been awarded college degrees, they are not sufficiently
educated and that a general lack of reading has contributed to a loss of
thinking.

CULTURAL DEMISE

He is also unsparing about growing wealth inequality in the country,
and that the failure of U.S. mass media to be objective has led to the
rise of the Tea Party, the conservative movement that losing Republican
vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has aligned herself with.

“When a dominant provider of information — I mean Fox particularly —
acts not as news but as propaganda for extremists, aberrations like the
Tea Party thrive,” Carey said, referring to Fox News channel, part of
Rupert Murdoch-controlled company News Corp (NWSA.O: ).

A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking
comment.

Carey said: “As democracy betrays its people, disguising propaganda as
news, making education the prerogative of an elite, creating bigger and
bigger inequalities of wealth, it betrays the people, who become
frightened and angry.”

As an example of cultural demise, the 66-year-old writer cites a rise
of vapid entertainment on television.

“It’s not to do with technology, we have just accepted that people
can’t read,” he said. “Something you get from reading words and ways of
thinking and argument and connection that you are not going to get from
watching an entertainment grab on television.”

Positive U.S. critical reaction to the book included the Los Angeles
Times, which said “Carey braids his story carefully, lovingly.” Salon.com
called it “a great novel” whose characters “you can’t bear to part with.”

Carey, who counts fellow high-profile authors like Don DeLillo and
Paul Auster as his friends, said reading Tocqueville’s “Democracy in
America” — a common U.S. college text — inspired him to write the new
book.

“I knew I could write about New York City in the period,” he said. “I
wasn’t worried at all. What I was worried about was the French part of it.
I don’t speak French, not a word of it.”

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(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Mohammad Zargham)

Author Peter Carey bemoans U.S. Tea Party boom