I live in the southeastern part of North Carolina, in a county that went for Trump. I’m one of those people who shouldn’t have been surprised but was. I had to leave town the morning after the election and did not want to go. The night before, lying in bed, my wife had been crying. We had the TV on, and she burst into tears when it became clear what was happening. When I left the house the next morning, my eleven-year-old daughter—for whom Hillary Clinton’s candidacy had been one of the more exciting and life-enlarging things she’d experienced—was crying her eyes out. I’ve noticed that the crying thing has already become a meme (“Pictures of people crying about Trump!”), and then a discredited meme (“Quit crying, liberals!”), by which talk we somehow moved in twenty-four hours past the reality that a good percentage of the country was openly weeping at the result of the election. Because, you know, that couldn’t mean anything. Read More
I am a rereader by nature. Like most rereaders, I have a few beloved favorites—Sisters By a River, or We Think the World of You, or A Girl in Winter—that bring me comfort as well as pleasure. Then there are a few books that I know just as well as these, and revisit just as often, but which I loathe. The writing is not bad; that would make the reading a chore instead of a sick pleasure. Usually I despise the narrator in some way—for being out of touch or oblivious or solipsistic. I particularly hate certain culinary memoirs and novels with leaden dialogue. The irritated satisfaction these books give me is akin to the irresistible pain of worrying a sore tooth.
I never hate-read work by someone I actually know. A few times I have gone on to learn too much about the writer of one of these books, and the pleasure went away. The wealth of available information may feed some kinds of animus; mine depend on the hermetic isolation of my own obscure prejudices. They must not be humanized. Read More