Outside Reading — Small Town, USA edition

America’s postal service is a rural lifeline—and it’s in jeopardy by Sarah Smarsh

One of the most frustrating elements of the headlong scramble currently underway to demolish the U.S. Postal Service is that the effort is being led by the party that constantly hurls charges of out-of-touch elitism at their opponents and refer to people living in the rural United States as the “real Americans.” And yet it is that part of the population that they opportunistically venerate that needs the U.S.P.S. the most, relying on their local letter carriers as a true lifeline to needed resources. Through this absurd and unexpected need to defend one of the most fundamental extensions of the federal government, plenty of observers have noted rural communities will be disproportionately harmed if the long-con goal is reached and postal service is privatized. Few have made that point as elegantly, thoroughly, and compelling as Sarah Smarsh does in this article, published by National Geographic.

The Last Stand by Dan Kaufman

This article appeared in The New Yorker several weeks back, but I’m in my usual place of staring down the ever-replenishing stack. My home state continues to be a point of fascination in this most fraught of years, and Dan Kaufman does an exceptional job of detailing the devastating effects recent policy malfeasance and greed-driven manipulations of political have had on the state, especially the dairy farms that are so central to our identity that they figure prominently on our license plates. State Republicans made it a mission to pick working people against one another while simultaneously strip mining public funds to direct floods of resources to already wealthy corporate interests. If there’s something fundamentally broken in our system, it’s because the heartless tycoons and their right-wing enablers gleefully broke it, all because obscene wealth wasn’t quite enough for them.

Jacob Blake Is My Nephew. My Family Is Suffering. by Rick Blake

In today’s edition of The New York Times, Rick Blake pens a plainspoken reminder that there are whole families connected to the people whose names become prominent as examples of out-of-control police violence against the citizenry. Unlike many others who are part of the tragic say-their-name registry, Jacob Blake survived his encounter with trigger-happy law enforcement officials. But he is far from physically sound, and his family members have the daily task of supporting him and one another. That trying, emotionally draining process endures well past the point of podiums and press conferences. With plainspoken power, Rick Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, recounts where the family is at now, nearly two months after his nephew was shot multiple times on a Kenosha street.

Fierce Attachments (1987) by Vivian Gornick

This revered memoir deserves every bit of the praise that’s been heaped on it. Vivian Gornick has nothing particular salacious nor monumental to share about her life. She grew up in the Bronx during the middle of the twentieth century, attuned to her neighbors and often frustrated by her mother, a woman who adopted a perpetual guise of mourning when her husband died young. From these modest, not especially uncommon pieces, Gornick weaves an intricately told reminiscence populated with sentences that are intricately constructed and lighter than air.

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