Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review :: The Road :: Cormac McCarthy

Last night I felt the last snow of this Chicago winter. This has been a winter for snow--deep snow, wet snow, thunder snow. Today the sun is shining; you couldn't tell that the sky was spitting snow last night.

I was driving home from work when the Blizzard of 2011 hit Chicago. As I drove toward the lake on Howard Street, the snow hit like a wall. Newscasts forewarned catastrophe. Once I'd found parking, I marched toward my apartment head-down to keep the snow out of my eyes. Drifts were already filling the courtyard of my building. My wife and I took shelter in our apartment reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter while the wind shook our windows and the sky flashed lightning.

All told, Chicago received 20.9 inches of snowfall. Chicago Public Schools canceled school for the first time in twelve years, and then did so for a second day while giant snow eaters cleared roads. I spent forty-five minutes digging out my car (which was buried up to the windows), twice.

I had finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road a few weeks earlier. Apocalyptic scenarios were on my mind. And then there I was, in the middle of the biggest snowstorm to hit Chicago since 1967. The city shut down. Maybe this was a glimpse of the end.

But I think not. In fact, I think this is a backward way of thinking. See, the next day, when the sky cleared to let the bitter cold sunlight illumine the shining city, Cindy and I went for a walk. We pulled on snow boots and muffled ourselves in scarves, and we struck out to cut a trail toward (of course) Dunkin Donuts. What I saw were traces of sled tracks, a recent immigrant family from Africa digging out their minivan, a tired buy behind the counter pouring coffee, parents exploring the snowscape with their toddlers. This wasn't the apocalypse. That came later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tell me what you think :: Ill Fares the Land :: Tony Judt

After reviews of Tony Judt's Ill Fares the Land appeared in Commonweal and repeatedly in New York Review Books (here, here-ish, and here), I was curious. Ill Fares the Land reads part political history and part screed. It's the kind of stuff that puts fire in your bones.

That said, I'm new to this game. Recent political history, the rise and fall of social democracy, Keynesian economic theory, and the effects of globalization are all rather new ideas for me.

So I want to know what you think. Or, more precisely, what you read. What books would explicate Judt for me? Blogs? Or, perhaps, what is your opinion of Ill Fares the Land? I'm all ears. . .
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