PERHAPS IT’S NOSTALGIA that has allowed proletariat writing to enjoy a half-life that defies its poor reputation. Though few literary sophisticates read the likes of Jack Conroy, Meridel Le Sueur, Jim Tully, or Tom Kromer, the fallout from such writing, abundant and popular prior to and just after World War II, remains with us in various guises. There are elements of it in noir and hard-boiled fiction, past as well as present. It’s also an undercurrent in early Beat writing, even if the latter was in part a reaction to the sectarianism that proletariat writing produced. In fact, traces of it exist in any writing that comes from and speaks to those on the wrong end of the economic order.