Franzen has turned his considerable novelistic talents to a kind of inquisitorial examination of the American ideal of freedom. He shows how freedom is negatively construed—focused on what we are free from and not on what freedom might be for, what worthy ends it might be used to pursue.
The year is 2071 when the narrator of this novel, who calls himself Ray Bradbury to conceal his identity, begins his report. The report details the year he spent living with his own clone in various apartments in Canada, hiding from the U.S. government and supported by an anticloning group.
When comedian Stephen Colbert brought his act to Capitol Hill in
September and stole the spotlight with his satirical shtick, no one was
more surprised than lawmakers. "You run your show," scolded House
Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, "we run the committee."
Jane Ziegelman writes in 97 Orchard that gefilte fish, one of many immigrant food traditions she describes, came to New York City's tenements with German-speaking Jews at the end of the 19th century. In its original form, the dish featured a chopped and seasoned fish mixture stuffed into the fish's skin before the fish was baked.
Two questions for today: First, why read poetry? I mean, really—who cares? Who has the time, not to mention coin, when you could be reading tremendous novels and stunning essays? And second, what is great poetry?
A growing body of research indicates that diversity in the classroom contributes to childhood development. Kids who make friends with kids from other races in school are better able to handle diversity and their academic performance is improved, according to a study done at New York University. Without assistance from teachers, however, the tendency over time is for same-race relations to increase and cross-race relations to decrease (NPR, July 12).