I continue nibbling away at Stanley Fish's THINK AGAIN, billed as Contrarian Reflections on Life, Culture, Politics, Religion, Law, and Education. Mr. Fish is contrarian enough to write in praise of the late Charlton Heston (the actor and the man) and to publicly agree with the late Justice Antonin Scalia on Constitutional interpretation ("The Constitution is not a living organism. It is a legal document."). What came as a surprise to me was that Fish has also written film reviews and has even compiled a list of the "Top Ten American Movies"; who knew that Stanley Fish and I shared a love and admiration for "Groundhog Day"?
Now that a populist tribune for the neglected American working-class has taken up residence (part-time, at least) in the White House, Ron Powers' FAR FROM HOME is a reminder that the working-class blues have been with us for a while. Writing in 1991, Powers asked "Can American towns survive our modern era?" He set about finding answers in the very different towns of Cairo, Illinois and Kent, Connecticut; his conclusions were not optimistic, and the quarter-century since he wrote has done nothing to contradict them.
Have I mentioned recently that good used-book stores, like good public libraries, are a community treasure? Missoula is lucky enough to have two such stores (and one such library): the Book Exchange and the Bird's Nest. The former is bright and upscale and the latter is more traditionally dim and cluttered; both are worth the time browsing--as is Green Ribbon Books, a nonprofit enterprise with a smaller but satisfying selection and some excellent bargains.
I mention all this because I've recently been fortunate enough to find used copies of two books for which I'd long been searching: Marc Oraison's THE WOUND OF MORTALITY (A Meditation on the Human Condition), a book I read decades ago, and George Howe Colt's THE ENIGMA OF SUICIDE, a surprisingly hard to find classic in the genre of "suicide studies"--and what does it say about the human condition that there is (and needs to be) such a thing as "suicide studies"?
And when I'm done with all those: Stephen Asma's AGAINST FAIRNESS, Robert Gerwarth's THE VANQUISHED, and Naomi Alderman's THE LIAR'S GOSPEL await.