Talking Point

I can’t begin to comprehend how one can be on the Left and not go nuts over the fact that tomorrow kids of wealthy parents will all be in school, like they’ve been at least since August, and the kids who aren’t wealthy will not. I used to be on the Left, and this kind of injustice used to really get us going. The stats on school dropout rates among black and Hispanic kids are horrid. The stats on depression and suicides among disadvantaged kids are worse.

But when I bring that up, people to the left of me politically invariably respond that “it’s a Republican talking point.” They say I changed but I can’t remember a point in my life where I would have reacted less intensely to this injustice.

I’m not the one who changed.

Quiet American Literature

So I thought that after 1930s nothing happened in American literature. Dreiser, Steinbeck, Faulkner*, and that’s it, lights out.

But it’s not true. Turns out there was a whole current of what I call “the quiet American literature.” Wallace Stegner and John Edward Williams belong to it. Beautiful writing. Very simple, not at all fussy. Zero pretentiousness. And so, so very American in the best possible sense.

I’m very happy I discovered these two great authors. I’m hoping there were other people writing in this vein. I blame my professors of American literature for making me think that Pynchon and DeLillo were the pinnacle of achievement in post-war US literature. They are both horrid, by the way. Utterly unreadable.

I had to spend 10 years in college getting 5 literature degrees only to discover much later that the best Latin American, US and Indian literature was concealed from me.

* Faulkner, by the way, was taught to me in my Spanish program because he’s considered (unfairly) to be the founder of the modern Latin American literature. In my American literature program I don’t remember him being mentioned much.

Diversity and Snow

Talking about diversity, in the wake of our historic snowstorm, I have spoken with Africans, Canadians, Mexicans, and Eastern Europeans living in the area.

Africans are understandably traumatized and feel frozen to their souls.

Canadians are complaining that their winter coats are making them too hot.

Mexicans are sad. But they always are. It’s a culture of people who looked into the abyss and will never forget it.

Eastern Europeans are joyful. Finally! A normal winter! It’s beautiful! Let’s eat! Got any new recipes? Which is the response to any life occurrence, of course.

The locals are hiding, so I don’t know how they feel.

Housing Shortage

In spite of the building boom, the housing market around here is so overheated, you’d think it’s Montana. Friends are trying to buy a house but anything they view gets an offer before they manage to get their bearings. One house got an offer while they were driving up to view. It’s not even an issue of price. It’s more a situation of houses being snapped up very fast.

I haven’t seen any “for sale” signs in a while. Before COVID, there were plenty. But now you can go weeks without seeing one.