Showing posts from November, 2016

a peculiar crisis

1. battle hymn of the rust belt over-achiever “Our men suffer from a peculiar crisis of masculinity,” writes J.D. Vance in Hillbilly Elegy, his memoir of growing up in a Rust Belt town inhabited by economic migrants from Appalachia, “in which some of the very traits that our culture inculates make it difficult to succeed in a changing world.” I wanted the book to feel more like its cover. I imagine New York agents and editors sending his manuscript around in emails sprinkled with “zeitgeist” and “the white working class” and “fresh, underrepresented voices.” I imagine them filling an unspoken quota that demands more work by conservative writers (Vance claims a conservative identity, although the book is only lightly political). If that sounds like an ungenerous impression, it’s because the book doesn’t quite accomplish what it explicitly sets out to do: represent for an economic and cultural underclass, and offer some loose suggestions about what this group needs, and

my own private trumpocalypse

1. requiem for a dream In college I read a short story in which a boy gets kicked out of school. He’s the child of migrant farm workers, and he has trouble keeping up. He knows his parents will be mad. On the walk home, he keeps thinking, Maybe it didn’t really happen. Texas, 1942. I’ve long forgotten the name of the book or author, unfortunately, but that scene stayed with me because it perfectly captured those moments in your life when you try to rewind time with your brain. When I got out of work on Tuesday, I looked an animated New York Times graphic that depicted a needle wobbling between Hillary and Trump, showing the likelihood of who would get elected based on the count coming in. It showed an 82% chance of a Hillary win. Like so many people, I’d showed up to my local polling place that morning feeling proud and optimistic. People chatted in English and Spanish, greeted their neighbors and sympathized with a toddler who wondered where the “boating” was.

still unpacking

1. baby, it’s cold outside The first neighbor we met after moving to our new house was an old Chinese woman; at least, she looked old, but maybe she just spent a lot of time outdoors. She had leathery brown skin, hair that looked as if it had been chopped by hand and only a couple of teeth left. She always wore the same brown tracksuit jacket with yellow stripes down the sleeves. When she first showed interest in our broken-down moving boxes, I thought she was collecting recyclables. I kept them out of the blue bin and put them directly in front of the house for her. But then she put them in the blue bin herself. And moved them from one bin to another. And disappeared with the bins themselves for days at a time. This is how moving feels. She liked to knock on our door and let us know when we had mail. Once she showed me where her shirt was missing a button and tried to hand me a needle. Another time she showed up in our front yard as a pizza was being delivered and beg