February 10, 2013

Fair warning

My mind has been taking a stroll backwards lately to the spring of a year right before the millennial odometer rolled over. Most of us might not have been aware of it, but these were kind of the good old days in America. Maybe the last of them.

The country was at peace, mostly. The economy was booming, although it was kind of hard to tell in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia. In a word, things hadn't quite gone to hell yet as they would in the early years of the next decade.

It had been a good year for me as far as work was concerned. We won some major fights defending the safety need for poor families and people with disabilities, both in courts and in the legislature.

I was also working my way through graduate school in sociology, a class or two at a time. I had just completed another class in theory and was enjoying the fact that my reading time was again my own.

To clear my mental palate, I listened to an 84(!) part lecture series by Arnold Weinstein on the classics of American literature, courtesy of The Teaching Company and my local library. And I resolved to read or listen to as many of the works discussed as I could.

This is probably a sad commentary on my life but that whole thing was one of the more pleasant experiences I've had. I read or listened to Irving; renewed my cursory acquaintance with Emerson; learned new things about Poe; hit some of Twain's and Melville's work that I had missed; dove into Fitzgerald and Faulkner; read the great plays by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller; discovered "new" writers like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, etc.

Say what you want about the USA, but this country has produced some kickass writers.

Over the next few weeks, as things heat up in WV and I'm going to be spread kind of thin, this blog is going to focus on an early and hugely influential current in American literature, with a special focus on the work of one writer who is difficult to classify.

More on that to come.

I'M GETTING TIRED OF THIS DRAMA-OF-THE-WEEK GARBAGE from Washington, and from the leadership of the US House in particular. Here's a look at what the latest mess (the sequester thingie) would look like.

THE UBER MAMA OF MODERN MAMMALS, including us, was a bit of a rat.


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