Category Archives: Meta

Reading Harry Potter While Jewish

I blogged domestically about Harry Potter. Happy weekend!

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I’m Baaaaaaaaack

My Munro article is in the can, y’all, and here are the things Imonna do now:

  • Read the fourth Neapolitan novel
  • Write a long think piece about my mixed feelings about Hillary Cl– oh wait Rebecca Traister locked it down already
  • Negotiate at least three cease fires
  • Clean out my car
    • which farts trash every time I open its door
  • Purchase and assemble a standing desk so I can finally be vaguely smug like the toe shoe people
  • Resist calculating the hourly rate of my contract to write an Alice Munro article for a lump sum, thus maturely strolling past the rabbit hole of post-academic rage about labor equity social value of humanities knowledge should I really have quit academia etc etc without even a cursory glance back into said hole wait too late daaaaaaaaaaaaaang
  • Relish having weekends back again again
  • Acknowledge getting paid in love, still, in my current child health policy gig too, is better than getting paid in hate but still not as good as getting paid in adequate dollars
  • Drink beer
  • Read all the reviews of Purity so I can maintain my opinion of Franzen without having to read more than the New Yorker excerpt through which I couldn’t hack the slog
  • Drink wine
    • Cuz Wine is Fine
  • Blog more again
    • For reals
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Mini Reviewlets: Munro Immersion

The blog has been more fallow than its usual don’t-call-it-climate-change-it’s-just-fallow state because I’m working on a long term writing project. On Alice Munro.

For money.

I haven’t been paid for my writing since we thought our computers would snap us back to the Iron Age. That dark millennial moment I took a “break” from  journalism to “get smarter” in grad school.

And on Alice Munro? Even cooler than the fluff piece I wrote back then on the Stanford Linear Accelerator. Which is to say: quantum cool.

So here’s a teaser of Munroviana to tide us over.

Continue reading

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When Writing Teachers Read NY Times Op-Eds

I have told students for 10 years.

I have witnessed its verity for 15 years.

I have practiced it for 20 years. Or tried to.

Strong, clear writing indicates strong, clear thinking.

Sputtering, erroneous, ranty writing—especially from one who for several decades has made a fat living with his writing—indicates sputtering, erroneous, ranty thinking.

I believe Dylan Farrow anyway. But from a purely rhetorical perspective, she wins.

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I Have No Feelings

Ariel Castro has hung himself.

The sub-human whose crime was to push most of our society’s long-standing messages about women and children into the realm of the absolutely-horrifying-cannot-ignore-it, will no longer breathe our air.

His crimes remind me of Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood, which I recently re-read, and which features a few horrifying sub-humans who commit similar crimes against women.

I’m planning a book reviewlet of this, and its predecessor Oryx and Crake, as soon as I get half a second to type up what’s in my head. But meanwhile, I’ll say that Atwood portrays this kind of violence against women as part of the landscape. As something that makes people uncomfortable, impotent, and near-apathetic.

We know it happens, but what can we do about it? Nothing.

Atwood’s solution is vicariously thrilling. But her solution, alas, is the least realistic part of her portrayal of violence against women. Everything else is too, too close to our world. For every Ariel Castro there are a dozen other cretins, or more, whose crimes against women will remain unknown, let alone unprosecuted.

Or others whose crimes against women will be prosecuted but inadequately punished.

Or others whose crimes against women are loudly defended by glamorous celebrities. And by his own victim.

I cannot begin to speculate if Castro’s suicide was an admission of guilt or contempt. Of understanding or its opposite. I have no feelings about his death. He is gone, his house is now demolished, and his victims are surviving as best they can.

The rest of the world can move on now, and forget that Castro was shaped by our world–the same world that shaped you and me.

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