Weekend Reading: November 11, 2016

 

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Quote of the Day: The Easter Rising

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On this day in 1916, Irish rebels rose up around the country. The short-lived Easter Rising to establish a free Irish Republic was put down by British forces on April 29.

From W.B. Yeats’s commemorative epic poem, “Easter 1916“:

We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead.
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse —
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Screening Room: ‘Where to Invade Next’

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For his newest film, agitprop documentarian Michael Moore uses the anthology approach instead of going after one problem. This time out, he’s pretending to be on a mission from Pentagon to go “conquer” various other Western nations, steal all their best ideas on topics America is having trouble with (education, health policy, law and order), and bring them home for us to profit from. This would never happen, of course, because this is America and if the idea didn’t originate here then, well, it clearly couldn’t be any good. Moore knows that, thusly the quixotic nature of this serio-comic broadside.

Where to Invade Next is opening later this week. My review is at PopMatters:

Moore starts in Italy. There, hanging out with a pair of serious vacationers, he does a good job of making just about every employed American in the audience sick with envy by pointing out the weeks and weeks of paid leave the average Italian gets just by dint of being Italian. The look of disbelief on the Italian man’s face when Moore tells him how many weeks of legally paid vacation Americans are entitled to (“None”) is so profound it is as though he has been told Americans still believe that the world is flat…

Here’s the trailer:

Reader’s Corner: Paul Theroux’s ‘Deep South’

Deep South-coverPaul Theroux has spent decades traversing the world and writing about it. Although some of his fiction has been set in America, his travel writing has always been the sort of thing that required a passport. In his newest book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, Theroux rectifies that oversight with a deep dive into the American south and its beautiful and fraught contradictions.

Deep South hit stores last week. My review is at PopMatters.

There’s an essay called “The South of the South” that Theroux published last year in the Smithsonian magazine that will give you some idea of what he was after in this book.