Time to recap my fave magazines from last month. You may or may not agree with my assessments, so if not drop me a line. If your riposte is well thought out, I’ll put it up here.
Harper’s Magazine, June 2013
As I’ve implied in previous posts about Harper’s, they are what they are. Meaning their lefty perspective hits dead center sometimes, and sometimes that viewpoint gets in the way. For example:
Of the two lead essays, Thomas Frank’s “Getting to Eureka,” gets it mostly right in assaying the worth of creativity in the marketplace, i.e., creativity as it applies to business. Here creativity is assumed to be a last-ditch stab at rescuing what conservative attitudes and complacency based in those attitudes have lost. However, Jeff Madrick’s “Education is not the Answer,” seems mired in 1930s leftist politics in implying that it’s unions’ power, not education, that strengthens the middle class and provides a pathway to the middle from the underclasses. What’s confusing here is that education is valuable in the marketplace, but education’s innovations usually send succeeding generations of those equally educated into obsolescence. Too, education shouldn’t be seen solely as a pathway to prosperity; instead it should always be seen as a pathway to thinking – critically and inventively.
But enough of that.
Nicolai Ouroussoff’s “Instant City,” chronicles the development of China’s cities, and the stream of farmer types to hopes of prosperity in those overlarge cities. In contrast, Glen Cheney’s “Promised Land,” depicts the plight of these mired in Brazil’s agrarian policies, the thinning forests of this giant country still seen as a way to prosperity.
My favorite piece in this issue (and such a relief it is from the rest of the well-written pieces) is Ben Stroud’s short story, “East Texas Lumber.” I grew up near the scene of Stroud’s story, and Stroud’s people could easily be my relatives. In his story two young men are delivering building supplies in the wake of a tornado and wondering about the women they wish to have in their lives. The story is rich in the dangers of tornados, building projects, and young, fumbling sex/love, and Stroud tells the story about as well as it can be told.
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