The other Lepore piece in this week’s issue, “Wars Within,” is part of the “Aftermath” series assessing the implications of Trump’s shocking election. Of the series’ sixteen essays, “Wars Within” comes closest to expressing my view. Lepore writes, “There are many reasons for our troubles. But the deepest reason is inequality: the forms of political, cultural, and economic polarization that have been widening, not narrowing, for decades.” What’s needed, in my opinion, is what Charles Reich advocated in The New Yorker forty-six years ago: a change of consciousness (“The Greening of America,” September 26, 1970). Peter Tewksbury’s life exemplifies such a change.
Other pleasures in this week’s issue: “Goings On About Town” ’s delightfully surreal description of Carolee Schneemann’s “Precarious” (“An associatively structured collage of degraded video footage, focused on the constrained movements of a caged cockatoo, a chained bear, dancing prison inmates, and the artist herself, wearing a blindfold”); Jeremy Liebman’s gorgeous photograph of Yeman Café’s kitchen stove, illustrating Nicolas Niarchos’s sensuous “Tables For Two” (“The liquid is murky but it sparkles with citrusy zest when it hits the tongue”); Colin Stoke’s vivid “Bar Tab” description of the “unironic” goings on at Kettle of Fish (“Choruses of ‘I Love My Green Bay Packers’ and ‘The Bears Still Suck’ bounced off wood-panelled walls like a ball off a receiver’s hand, and homesick Wisconsinites ordered delicious ‘imported’ brats buried in sauerkraut and mustard for five dollars”); Tad Friend’s inspired Talk story “The Undead,” in which cast members of “The Dead, 1904” rehearse for an “immersive re-creation” of the holiday feast in James Joyce’s “The Dead” (“O’Reilly sampled the petits fours and wondered whether the quinoa and Tabasco-flavored ones might not be anachronistic”); Gary Shteyngart’s brilliant “Aftermath” contribution, “Dystopia” (“The jump from Twitter racism to a black church set aflame on a warm Southern night is steady and predictable”); Dan Chiasson’s wonderful “Cross Talk,” a review of Ishion Hutchinson’s “punk-baroque” poetry [“His sound effects are exquisite: the clusters of consonants (hard ‘c’s, then ‘b’s and ‘p’s) and the vowels so open you could fall into them, the magisterial cresting syntax, the brilliant coupling of unlike words (‘iceberg-Golgotha’)”].