The following are suggested books and other resources on topics covered in this issue.
- Marriage and Divorce
- Phil Gramm
- Newt Gingrich
- Corporate Welfare
- Outspoken (Tony Kushner)
For further reading and advanced hellraising:
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
Guidance for men who want to be more involved in their children’s lives (even after divorce) comes in the form of Will Glennon’s inspiring book, Fathering: Strengthening Connection With Your Children No Matter Where You Are (Berkeley: Conari, 1995), which draws on contemporary fathers’ stories to reveal that fathering isn’t a matter of biology–or proximity–but “the choice to build an unconditional and unbreakable connection to another human being.”
Even if the marriage doesn’t work out, is there still hope for a fairy-tale divorce? In The Good Divorce (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), sociologist Constance Ahrons combats the view that divorce inevitably traumatizes children and makes enemies of adults, and why sensitivity and caring (the real “family values”) are the cornerstone of a successful nonmarriage.
Could Phil Gramm have come from anywhere other than Texas? Probably not. Certainly his virulent conservatism and swaggering persona are in keeping with everything Molly Ivins has told us of her Texas friends (and nonfriends). Ivins’ rollicking collections, Nothin’ But Good Times Ahead (New York: Random House, 1993) and Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? (New York: Vintage, 1991), tell us even more.
Just in time for the ’96 election, Thomas S. Langston explores the country’s oldest “dysfunctional relationship” in With Reverence and Contempt: How Americans Think About Their President (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995). In this historical survey of the presidency, Langston asserts that Americans want their leader to be something a democratic leader really can’t be: a national icon and charismatic priest-king. And Talking Politics: Choosing the President in the Television Age by Liz Cunningham (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1995) explores the now-indissoluble marriage between presidential campaigns and television. The author interviews nine media luminaries (including Pierre Salinger, Linda Ellerbee, and Tom Brokaw) on the role that TV plays in shaping national elections.
Author Ilan Stavans explores the ever-present tensions between his native and adopted languages, attitudes, and tastes in The Hispanic Condition: Reflections on Culture & Identity in America (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), a compelling read for Americans of any ethnicity.
Gertrude Stein, everyone’s favorite literary cubist, speaks her mind on landscape and identity in The Geographical History of America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995). At the heart of this collection of prose, dialogues, and meditations lies Stein’s lifetime fascination with her homeland. “Yes, I’m married,” the expatriate once replied to a reporter’s question, “I’m married to America.”
If you vaguely suspect (and who doesn’t?) that Newt’s up to no good, you can subscribe to the NewtGram, a weekly newsletter put out by the Democratic National Committee. It reports Newt’s numerous run-ins with the House Ethics Committee, the dubious funding of GOPAC, etc. Call DNC Communications at (202) 863-8151.
One more reason to take the plunge into cyberspace: “NewtWatch,” a page located on the World Wide Web, is entirely devoted to Newt-centered news, views, and discussion: http://www.cais.com/newtwatch
To see what Newt boosters are up to, check out what’s going on with the Newt fan club:
http://www.clark.net/pub/jeffd/mr_newt.html Or help Mother Jones investigate Newt by reviewing GOPAC’s financial records in our Coin-Operated Congress feature.
“Dwayne’s World” and “10 Little Piggies”
The idea of a handful of transnational corporations controlling the global food market leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth–not to mention the processed, greasy snacks they are foisting on consumers from Buenos Aires to Beijing. In Global Dreams: Imperial Corporations and the New World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), Richard J. Barnet and John Cavanagh provide a fascinating discussion of the new world-spanning corporations and the queasy implications of a truly global culture.
Before corporate-controlled agribusiness, there was a thing called agri-culture, a way of life evoked in Charles Fish’s In Good Hands: The Keeping of a Family Farm (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995). Fish interweaves the story of his boyhood summers on a sixth-generation Vermont farm with the diary and letter accounts of his ancestors, whose writings brim with earthy sensibility.
Now more than ever, corporate worker bees need The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America (New York: Doubleday, 1994) by poet David Whyte, which relates the heroic spiritual struggles of Dante, Coleridge, Beowulf, and others to your struggles to preserve your imagination and integrity at work.
Kushner’s two-part epic, Angels In America, dazzles onstage but is full of thematic complexity and linguistic subtleties that can slip away too quickly. Now Part One: Millenium Approaches (New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1993) and Part Two: Perestroika (1994) are available in bookstores; rumor has it that a movie based on the plays is in the works.
In Homos (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995), Leo Bersani argues that, by rejecting a uniquely gay identity and assimilating into the dominant culture, gays inadvertently reinforce homophobia and, in effect, self-erase. The controversial critic draws extensively on Gide, Proust, and Genet, and rallies for a radical, uncompromising gay identity.