(“At first I’d had an overwhelming urge to write both books but these two desires had worn each other down to the point where I had no urge to write either.”) His ennui is operatic and ridiculous. He did get some things wrong—social media was a fledgling force at the time, and Google then seemed an admirably open gateway to content compared with Apple—but the stories of those other industries remain a potent warning about the fate of any crucial communications medium in a society that fails to protect itself.Alexander was an academic specializing in civil rights when, in the early 2000s, she walked past a protest sign condemning the War on Drugs as the “new Jim Crow.” Her first impulse was to shrug off this claim as conspiracy theory and to go back to what most of her middle-class black friends and colleagues considered their top priority: protecting affirmative action. Fadiman shows great respect for the Hmongs and their culture, devoting alternate chapters to their beliefs and history, without ever pretending that their folk cures did Lia any good. Know My Name: A Memoir, Chanel Miller. Although not an alcoholic herself, Laing grew up in a family warped by her mother’s partner’s drinking, and that story weaves through her account of her travels to the places where six men—John Cheever, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Carver, and John Berryman—wrote, got hammered, and dried out. They abandoned her to assorted relatives, friends, and strangers for years at a time, bouncing her from an elderly minister’s house in upstate New York to a Floridian resort, a Los Angeles apartment, a Cuban sugar plantation, and a fancy Montréal boarding school. The fantasy that the internet’s distributed structure (it has no “master switch”) would keep it forever free of monopolies was a point of faith among the medium’s early adopters, and the intervening years have only underlined how prophetic Wu was in identifying their mistake.
Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. But Beautifully written and nearly deranged in its comprehensiveness, After 9/11, Armstrong, a former nun turned popular historian of religion, seemed like some kind of prophet: She had published her history of fundamentalism, If you were a semifeckless, amply flawed but eminently clever twentysomething Gen Xer at the turn of the 21It’s true that Fox’s memoir of the first 20 or so years of her life was published during a boom in autobiographies about awful childhoods, and Fox’s Jazz Age–style bohemian parents were … difficult. Pinging from Paris to Rome to Greece to Taos, New Mexico, Dyer makes literary pilgrimages that result in no epiphanies. If you buy something through our links, She matches up archival photos of vacant lots and storefronts with the new, gentrifying constructions erupting in their place.
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