Outside Reading — This Summer I Heard the Drumming edition


The Girl in the Kent State Photo by Patricia McCormick

More than fifty years after the Kent State shootings, Patricia McCormick profiles the girl who was at the center of the most famous photo of the government’s crime against the citizenry. Only fourteen years old at the time, and on the college campus almost by happenstance, Mary Ann Vecchio has lived a long, complicated life that included bearing the psychic scars of that moment and those accumulated in the aftermath as she was beset by the same sort of harassment from regressive clods that permeates the digitally interconnected culture today. As a piece of history, the Kent State shooting is almost always framed as a tragedy that everyone immediately identified as a tragedy. But right-wing ghouls were as happy to stand up and cheer then murder of their fellow Americans then as they are now. This article is published by The Washington Post.


America Is Still Racist by Charles M. Blow

With powerful simplicity and clarity, Charles M. Blow offers a corrective to the Republican politicians who are knocking over one another for the privilege of standing in front of a news camera to haughtily declare that we are a nation blessedly free from bigotry. Taken with his equally authoritative commentary delivered recently on CBS Sunday Morning, Blow is laying out what should be the fact-based starting place for our shared discussions about how to make the U.S. a just society for all people. The essay is published by The New York Times.

Fates and Furies (2015) by Lauren Groff

This dazzling novel tells the story of a marriage, including the hefty baggage carried by the two halves of the wedded couple. Lauren Groff’s prose is dense with detail and emotion. Her sentences dazzle without ever coming across as overwritten or otherwise ostentatious, and she knows precisely how to pull the reader along little hints of mystery that are sure to be revealed with a future turn of the page. The headlong momentum of great storytelling is sometimes devalued in books that aspire to high art. That’s not Groff’s strategy. She writes high literature of delicate poise that simultaneously reverberates with the ruthless moxie of pulp yarns.

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