Barbara Kingsolver: ‘Rural people are so angry they want to blow up the system.’” Lisa Allardice talks with Barbara Kingsolver about her new novel: “Raised in Kentucky, Kingsolver describes herself as ‘Appalachian, through and through.’ This DNA is stamped on every one of the 550 pages of her bravura retelling of Dickens’s David Copperfield, relocated to her native state and updated to the 1990s. Largely written during the pandemic, its subject is another epidemic: the opioid crisis, of which Appalachia was ‘ground zero.’ With its deep-rooted evocation of place, epic scope and powerful moral purpose, Demon Copperhead is undoubtedly the defining novel of an already distinguished career.”

Cormac McCarthy Symposium.” The University Bookman hosts a three-part symposium on McCarthy’s life and writings.

Theorizing the Rust Belt.” Ed Simon wrestles with what exactly constitutes the Rust Belt and announces the formation of a new academic journal dedicated to the region and its culture: “Much of what the nation currently faces, from ecological calamity to the perils of privatization, political polarization to deindustrialization, was first faced in the Rust Belt a generation ago. Both our failures and our successes have lessons.”

The Feminists Insisting That Women Are Built Differently.” Writing for the Atlantic, Helen Lewis describes the growing group of British feminists who reject some of the core assumptions of their American counterparts: “In the view of many mainstream U.S. feminist writers, Britain is TERF Island, a blasted heath of middle-class matrons radicalized by the parenting forum Mumsnet into conservatism and “weaponized white femininity.” The response of some British feminists is that, in practice, the agenda of mainstream American feminism has shriveled down to the abortion fight and corporate-empowerment platitudes, and is hamstrung by its strange refusal to accept the relevance of biology.”

Gimpy.” Ian Barth describes the joys and travails of raising ducks with his young son and offers a humble suggestion for those who want to go vegan for ethical reasons: “My own unsophisticated counterpoint is simply that if you love animals, start raising some for food yourself. Chickens are easy. Goats and rabbits are pretty cheap. Pigs can be fed on acorns. You’ll find you love creation more deeply when you actually start to take a hand in caring for it.”

To Kill or Not To Kill.” Kim Schmidt tries to find something good about the spotted lanternfly and almost succeeds: “In some ways, I feel bad for the lanternfly. I even relate to them. They were born into a situation they didn’t choose, and their every necessary-for-survival action has negative consequences for the people around them and the planet they live on. For the lanternfly, and for us, there is no 100% positive course of action. But there are actions that help lessen the damage. So even if I’ll still struggle with killing them myself, I can agree that the lanternfly population needs to be controlled.”

Want Stronger Families? Pay Workers More.” Brad Littlejohn reviews Michael Lind’s new Hell to Pay: “while we should always beware grand narratives that purport to trace all the trouble in the world to one root problem, there is something intuitively compelling about Lind’s account. Indeed, given conservatives’ longstanding emphasis on the dignity of work, Lind’s proposal to build a political movement around the empowerment of workers, and the just reward for their labor, is one that the right should leap to embrace, uncomfortable as it may seem to a leadership class long beholden to shareholder interests.”

National Test Scores Plunge, with Still No Sign of Pandemic Recovery.” Donna St. George reports on the dismal test results that show American students continuing to fall behind in math and reading: “Hardest hit were the lowest-performing students. In math, their scores showed declines of 12 to 14 points, while their highest-performing peers fell just six points. The pattern for reading was similar, with lowest performers seeing twice the decline of the highest ones.”

Amazon Allegedly Duped People into Subscribing to Prime and Made it Nearly Impossible to Cancel. Here’s how the Feds say They Did it.” Lukas I. Alpert details the charges that the FTC is bringing against Amazon. But hey, at least folks at Amazon are reading Homer: “Canceling Amazon Prime proved to be a Sisyphean task, for anyone attempting it, the FTC alleged. The process was so complicated and labyrinthine, that Amazon used the term the ‘Iliad’ to describe it, referring to Homer’s epic poem detailing the 10-year-long Trojan war, the FTC said. According to the FTC, the Iliad flow forced people ‘to navigate a four-page, six-click, fifteen-option cancellation process.’ By contrast, the FTC noted, customers could enroll in Prime with one or two clicks.”

How the NCAA Twisted Women’s Sports.” Bill Kauffman mourns the way that women’s sports—and sports more generally—have followed the path of professionalism and spectatordom: “So this is the road taken: Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese dissing each other on national TV as couch-sitters across the nation fiddle with their smartphones, betting basketball over-unders on FanDuel and cursing missed shots between Taco Bell commercials. This is the road not taken: Every collegiate gym and pool and sporting field filled with young women playing games and joyfully competing against others of comparable skill levels, without so much as a glimpse of this aired over ESPN.”

The Wanting of What May Be Lost.” Jim Wood tries to reconcile his work as a pediatric surgeon with his appreciation for the writings of Wendell Berry: “The death of Burley Coulter is beautiful not least because it rejects the mechanical, depersonalizing, and hectic world of the hospital for the pastoral world of Port William—the ‘bright orderly enclosure’ of the doctor’s empirical knowledge for the deeper wisdom and courage that springs from rural simplicity. But the romantic picture holds only because, as Mat Feltner says of Jack Beechum in The Memory of Old Jack, ‘It’s not a tragedy when a man dies at the end of his life.’ On the other hand, it is indeed a tragedy—the worst imaginable tragedy—when a child dies at the beginning of his or her life.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. “Lind’s proposal to build a political movement around the empowerment of workers, and the just reward for their labor, is one that the right should leap to embrace, uncomfortable as it may seem to a leadership class long beholden to shareholder interests.”
    Setting up an either/or between “workers”, i.e., employees, and “shareholder interests”, i.e., big corporations, is to concede everything from the start. The goal should be to build a nation of empowered citizens. Anything that opposes that, which includes big corporations, big labor unions, big government, etc., should be ripped to pieces and scattered to the winds.

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