America Divided, With Reader Comments

U.S. 2012 ELECTION RESULTS, BLUE STATES  FOR OBAMA, RED STATES FOR ROMNEY. FLORIDA, THE LAST STATE TO BE DECIDED, WENT BLUE. (Map via Wikipedia)

U.S. 2012 ELECTION RESULTS, BLUE STATES FOR OBAMA, RED STATES FOR ROMNEY. FLORIDA, THE LAST STATE TO BE DECIDED, WENT BLUE. (Map via Wikipedia)

“This is the America that Obama will govern in his second term: A place divided not only by ideology, race and class but also by the very perception of reality. . . . The president who spoke ambitiously at his first inauguration about uniting America instead arrives at his second with the country further divided.”Eli Saslow, The Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2013

Note:  This post was published in 2013 following the 2012 presidential election. It seems more relevant than ever as America prepares for the 2016 presidential election.

Divided by ideology, race and class.

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That sums up America in the decade leading up to the Civil War, as described in Team Of Rivals,” Doris Kearns Goodwin’s history of Abraham Lincoln and the politicians, abolitionists, generals, and ordinary people of his era. The similarities between the present time and the decade before the Civil War are striking and frightening. Continue reading

Back To Reality, 2013

Thank goodness the holiday season is over. Especially the past two holiday weeks. I have no predictions for 2013, only questions. Will the U.S. default on its debt? Where will war break out? Can I find something useful to do with the rest of my life? When is the next storm coming? Is Congress mad?   Continue reading

Uncommonly Good Books By Great American Writers

It’s not exactly writer’s block. But I have chronic difficulty writing about exceptional  books and great American authors.

How long has it been since I promised to finish my review of J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy?”  Is it a novel about small-town life, or hypocrisy, or intolerance, or poverty? Local politics gone crazy, or class warfare? Darned if I know. I’d have to read the whole thing again to sort it all out. (Rowling is British, but her story resounds in American culture.)

As I read the final page of “The Casual Vacancy,” I was struck speechless. Partly it’s a sense of grief that the book is over. Partly it’s awe at the author’s virtuoso performance. What can I say but, “Bravo!”?

ANN PATCHETT

ANN PATCHETT

Among contemporary authors, Ann Patchett amazes me the most. I never wrote a word about Patchett’s “State of Wonder.” What could I say? What kind of story is it, science fiction? Corporate treachery vs. scientific deception? Human hubris? The premise is a discovery so unlikely that you find yourself believing it, combined with an adventure so implausible that it has to be real. Yet it’s all nothing more than a figment — an elaborate figment — of Patchett’s hyperactive imagination! (Patchett and the following authors are all American originals.)

Continue reading