The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. Otsuka tells the story, in collective voice, of Japanese women who traveled to meet husbands already living in the U.S. in the first part of the 20th century. She writes of their encounters with American culture and how they shaped their dreams and hopes for themselves and their families in difficult and sometimes harrowing circumstances.
Books on Barack Obama are proliferating. Recent additions include biographies, political analyses, a look into Obama's African family tree, books on his handling of specific issues and books on race and politics in American society. Among these, James Kloppenberg's intellectual contextualization stands out.
Several years ago, I was interviewed by Linda Wertheimer of
National Public Radio about the then extraordinarily popular Left Behind
series. At one point, she asked me if I thought the Left Behind books were
funny. I paused, trying to absorb all the layers of her question, and then came
up with a brilliant answer: "No. Why? Do you?"
On my bike ride home from the train station, I see a church
sign: "Shaking Foundations? God is Big Enough to Hold Onto." I assume that the
person who put this sign up was thinking about economic or personal
foundations, was trying to speak to the heightened anxiety that has its grip on
The faces in the photographs on the front page of the newspaper
startled me. They were laid out in rows. The first photo in the series was
invariably of a young girl, maybe with a mischievous smile or a rebellious
glare, but with a decided look of innocence. By the end of the series, that
same face was battered, bloated and bruised.
On a recent episode of Marketplace, after another
day of "volatility" in the stock market, host Kai Ryssdal asked New York bureau
chief Heidi Moore about that particular day's anxiety, apparently caused by
untrue rumors about a French bank.
I'm making my rounds at Safeway, shopping for my church's community meal. In the produce section—where I am forbidden to ask for donations—I see two heaping boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables headed to the trash.
Some education reformers are trying to shift
the focus from test scores to the broader circumstances of children's
lives. One idea emphasizes schools as places where children connect with
the broader society.
One of the most interesting posts on Middle East expert Juan
Cole's extensive blog is his advice
to fledgling Arab democracies on how to build a democracy. He bases his advice
on ten mistakes that he thinks Americans have made in the formation and
perpetuation of our democracy.