Speaking of Endurance

His-and-hers perspectives on chronic relapse. Strong stuff. She: I met my husband, Jimmy, at my very first AA meeting. I stumbled into the 14th Street Workshop, bloated and reeking of booze from the night before, in my pajamas. I hadn't showered in days, and I was wary of the people in the room. I didn't trust anyone.Jimmy recognized that I was new (it wasn't hard to spot), and he put out his hand to shake mine, welcoming me and giving me a meeting list. I don't remember much about that … [Read more...]

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“Prodigals and Preachers”: me on Marilynne Robinson

at Acculturated: This is the halfway point for my series of posts on great novels about marriage, and with this third installment I think I see some intertwined themes emerging. All three of the books so far—Kristin Lavransdatter, How to Be Good, and now Marilynne Robinson’s generational Iowa epic-in-miniature Gilead—are also stories about being sorry, and trying to be better, and wondering how much any person can ever really change. more; keep in mind that all of these posts necessarily overs … [Read more...]

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“You’re Not the Horrible Man I Married Anymore!”: me on Nick Hornby’s How to Be Good

In the first installment of this series on great novels about marriage we looked at a thousand-plus-page epic novel about life and death in medieval Norway: early death, mutilation, miserable weddings, war, prowling wolves, even the Black Plague itself. So you might be relieved by the book I’ve chosen this time. Nick Hornby’s 2001 How to Be Good has a bright yellow cover, a modern British setting, and a manageable three-hundred pages. This first impression is misleading. How to Be Good is a bru … [Read more...]

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“Cold Nights, Fiery Hearts”: me on Kristin Lavransdatter

First in a series on novels about marriage. … [Read more...]

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“Some Prefer Nettles”: Drifting Toward Divorce

Some Prefer Nettles is a slim 1928 novel by Junichiro Tanizaki about the opening of Japan to the West; and, also, about a couple who can't quite seem to pull themselves together enough to divorce. They have a strange existential lassitude about it, even as everyone around them urges them to make some kind of resolution.Should they divorce? They're not happy but then again their unhappiness is just normal unhappiness, as Kaname's father-in-law finally points out to him. They have a son who is … [Read more...]

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“The Party of Prison Reform”: The Weekly Standard

Michael Hough—a second-term Republican state legislator from Frederick County, Md.—is about as conservative as blue-state legislators come. He played a prominent role in opposing the state’s new gay marriage law, holds an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, and received a 100 percent score from the state’s business lobby.The major focus of his legislative agenda, however, crushes any stereotypes that might come to mind, given his résumé. Hough wants to reform America’s prisons and … [Read more...]

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“Prison and the Poverty Trap”: John Tierney

in the NYT: ...The shift to tougher penal policies three decades ago was originally credited with helping people in poor neighborhoods by reducing crime. But now that America’s incarceration rate has risen to be the world’s highest, many social scientists find the social benefits to be far outweighed by the costs to those communities.“Prison has become the new poverty trap,” said Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist. “It has become a routine event for poor African-American men and their fami … [Read more...]

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