I haven’t posted to this blog in nearly two years, so it may be time to admit that I’m not likely to do so in the near future. But I do still have blog-like thoughts: ideas rolling around in my head, mini book reviews, updates on what I’m reading and writing. Frequent topics include our cultural obsession with work, the current state of moral reasoning in the United States, and the role of religion in American culture.
Here’s an excerpt from a newsletter I sent out earlier this month:
Dedicated readers of this newsletter know that Meghan Daum is one of my favorite writers. I first encountered her work way back when I was a grad student with over $15,000 in credit card debt. (True story: they used to give away high-limit cards to penurious grad students at college football games in the 1990s.) Someone had recommended I read Daum’s essay, “My Misspent Youth,” which is about her own indebtedness in her 20s. I did, and I was hooked. Daum made sense of my experience using a precision and analytical rigor that never turned heavy-handed. She mapped out the obscure area between her individual agency and the cultural forces pushing her toward particular forms of ambition and debt. I was familiar with that territory, though I had no names for its features.
Rereading “My Misspent Youth” now, I connect the dots between Daum’s persona as a young, aspiring New York writer and the characters who populate the films of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Daum and Baumbach seem to have gone to Vassar at the same time. The college universe she describes in the essay is the universe of so many Baumbach characters, especially the louche rich kids living in that Chinatown apartment in “Frances Ha.”
I post these mini (sometimes mega) essays to my free newsletter, which I send out about once a month. You can subscribe here: https://tinyletter.com/jonmalesic.
Thanks to all of you who follow this blog, perhaps waiting patiently to hear a word from me! Thank you for waiting, and thanks for reading.