Friday, April 18, 2014

Theme: Family

  • The January 2013 issue of PMLA has a pretty cool article ("Whitman's Children") by Bowdoin College English Professor Peter Coviello that takes as its starting point a couple of babies born after the U.S. Civil War that were named Walt—a nominal tribute that two veterans paid to Walt Whitman after receiving Whitman's care during the war. Read more
  • Men then were more alike than they are now. In their alikeness, which the time required, they had a conscientious, replicable beauty—boy cleanliness, haircuts that showed their ears, white shirts, black ties. Fresh handkerchiefs. Shoes whose shine needed vigilance.Read more
  • April 24, 1970. Friday morning. The sun, searing the shade, my brother’s and mine. We share a room. Twin beds above the kitchen,side by side. Headboards against the wall beneath the window that looks down on a tiny cement patio. A small house next to an alley next to a grocery-store parking lot. Kroger.Read more
  • She’s always late!” the sixteen-year-old sobbed. She’d set up the ironing board and its accessories like a shrine to housewifery. Heat shimmered in the air, had already slightly compromised the plastic of the spray bottle. Only Bonita could master the pleats of Suzanne’s ghastly uniform skirt. Other girls did not care. Still others had punctual housekeepers. Or parents who ironed.Read more
  • The maternal figures of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and Jonathan Franzen's Freedom are antithetical characters. Avril Incandenza, the imperious OCD-ridden mother figure in Infinite Jest, raises insecure children despite her profound love for them. On the contrary, Patty Berglund, the conflicted mother in Freedom, eventually adopts the role of the child herself, but – possibly because of her many insecurities – allows her children to become more self-reliant individuals.Read more
  • The competition show Survivor just began its 25th season in the United States, and while any stigma associated with watching the show has almost completely faded, it nonetheless still gets grouped into the wide expanse of “reality television.” But that label, which tends to carry such negative associations, doesn’t actually fit Survivor.Read more
  • During my thesis research in the communities of Saban and Huay Max, located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, I watched how children from three different familial units living on the same housing lot were constantly reorganized and re-circulated as adult family members came and went. Read more
  • A comic strip by Brooklyn artist Gabrielle Bell.Read more
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the new father, was twenty-three years old. It was five years after he went up to Jesus College, Cambridge, as a classical scholar of dazzling promise; three years after he drank, whored, neglected his studies, ran up debts, considered shooting himself, accepted a bounty of six and a half guineas to join the 15th Regiment of Light Dragoons.Read more
  • Near Land’s End in Cornwall, the westernmost point of the island of Great Britain, where the rocks and cliffs of terra firma put up a heroic resistance to the incessant waves of the Atlantic, the landscape ends with some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet.Read more
  • Dear Ura, You must be having a whangleberry of time with that sledding, I'm glad you're such a good sport about getting hurt and I'm sure that the boys appreciate it too. Read more
  • Ann Joslin Williams reads a passage from Down from Cascom Mountain, her debut novel about how a rural New Hampshire community deals with tragedy. Read more
  • Jesmyn Ward reads a passage from Salvage the Bones, her novel that was just announced as a finalist for the National Book Award. Read more
  • Alice LaPlante reads a passage from Turn of Mind, her novel about the disintegration of a strong woman's mind and the unhinging of her family. Read more
  • John Hammett, a Newport clerk, schoolmaster, and wife beater, may not be the most typical early American, but his experience suggests how braided law and life actually were in the era.Read more
  • What are the choices when a family member converts to another faith (or non-faith)? Or, takes a path that upsets the family’s perceived traditions?Read more
  • Awarded the Jury’s Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, Andrei Zvyagintsev’s “Elena” is a powerful cinematic fete, as distinct and subtle as his 2003 prize-winning “The Return”. Read more
  • When enslaved Americans confronted the intensifying market economy of the nineteenth-century United States, they faced ominous changes and serious challenges. Read more
  • Anne Sexton at home reading, talking about poetry and her family.Read more
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