5 Most Popular Posts: October 2020
- November 2, 2020
We here at the Independent love every piece we run. There are no winners or losers. But all kidding aside, here are October’s winners.
- “The Harsh Lessons of Frankenstein” by Dorothy Reno. “Nearly 200 years later, the debate about whether beauty can be measured continues, but not with Frankenstein. Today, popular and academic interpretations coalesce largely around Victor as the abandoning parent — and Monster as the faultless, traumatized child — a naked clue to our Freudian heritage and its parent-blaming spinoffs. Pushed further, a contemporary reading of the novel inflames our dread in the postcolonial era, the understanding that heinous acts are produced, reproduced, and catching; that trauma lives on, and responsibility, we tell ourselves, flows back through time.”
- “An Interview with James V. Irving” by Tamar Abrams. “By day, Jim Irving is a sixty-something, buttoned-up attorney, a partner in a prestigious Northern Virginia law firm. By night, he is a writer tapping into his past experiences as a private eye and criminal lawyer. In his debut novel, Friends Like These: A Joth Proctor Fixer Mystery, the first in a planned trilogy, Irving draws heavily on his Arlington environs in crafting the adventures of his protagonist, Joth Proctor.”
- Jennifer Bort Yacovissi’s review of OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?: A Non-Boring Guide to How Our Democracy Is Supposed to Work by Ben Sheehan (Black Dog & Leventhal). “As you might guess from the title, Sheehan takes a decidedly unbuttoned approach to explaining the language and meaning of the Constitution, while providing context, intent, and logic — such as it may be — behind each section, along with lots of other illuminating information. For example, if you’ve ever wondered about the full line of presidential succession, which Congress sets, the author explains that it’s determined by the order in which cabinet positions were established, and he lists them along with the date they came into being. As he notes, if we ever get to number 18, secretary of homeland security, some really bad stuff has just happened.”
- David Raney’s review of Shoddy: From Devil’s Dust to the Renaissance of Rags by Hanna Rose Shell (University of Chicago Press). “Hanna Rose Shell’s subtitle, ‘From Devil’s Dust to the Renaissance of Rags,’ suggests both the book’s humble subject (reconstituted cloth) and the unlikely drama and fury that rose around it. Shoddy tells in 170 brisk, well-illustrated pages a tale, as the publisher puts it, of ‘industrial espionage, political infighting, scientific inquiry, ethnic prejudices, and war profiteering.’”
- Linda Nemec’s review of Welfare for the Rich: How Your Tax Dollars End Up in Millionaires’ Pockets — and What You Can Do About It by Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers (Post Hill Press). “Welfare for the Rich should attract attention — the book’s title itself as well as the exposé within. The subtitle, ‘How Your Tax Dollars End Up in Millionaires’ Pockets — and What You Can Do About It,’ makes it clear what the authors set out to do. Covering farm support, tariffs, zoning, investment incentives, regulations, and lobbying, the book’s examples are designed to infuriate, and infuriate they do — even during a time when many of us have become numb to shocking news.”