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Bile-colored flutes survive along bog rock,
red-veined with a fine fuzz:
canebrake pitchers
hooded against the good rain.

Illustration by Lauren Simkin Berke

Civility vs. Decency

A spokesperson for a divisive president is turned away from a restaurant. That president delights in dog-whistle insults that fall just short of outright ethnic slurs—usually. A white woman calls the police on a black child selling water on a city street on a beastly hot day. A patron who hasn’t been turned away from a restaurant leaves a note for the server, who bears an Arabic name, saying, “We don’t tip terrorist [sic].”

Illustration by Anna Sudit

The News From the World of Beauty

In late summer of 2017 I was at an artists’ colony in rural Virginia. A hot topic of conversation among the artists there was how we were reading the news, and how often. Some of the artists at the colony were reading the news obsessively every morning, either because they were addicted to it or because they felt it was their social responsibility to stay informed about the invariably breathtaking choices of our current president and those who surround and respond to him. Some artists were ignoring the news altogether—every headline, every scandal, every tweet—choosing to entirely suppress the outside world during the span of the residency. The rest of the artists stayed lightly informed, but consciously attempted to prevent the news of the world from gaining much purchase on their inner lives.

Go Set a Watchman. By Harper Lee. Harper, 2015. 278p. HB, $27.99.

Scout Comes Home Again

As admirable and courageous as the film’s Atticus is, this lionization goes way too far in construing the novel’s Atticus in our memory as some sort of social reformer. 

The arrival of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in a Frisian village in the Netherlands on November 24, 2012. (Patrick Post / Hollandse Hoogte)

Who Is Zwarte Piet?

A holiday tradition in the Netherlands involving blackface has sparked a debate about race, the legacy of slavery, and the vestiges of colonialism. Emily Raboteau told the story in our Winter 2014 magazine.

Ed Harris (as Dr. Bill Perch) and Amy Madigan (as Susan Perch) in The Jacksonian, which premiered in February 2012, at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, directed by Robert Falls. (All photographs by Michael Lamont)

The Jacksonian [private]

CHARACTERS (In order of appearance) BILL PERCH, a dentist and motel resident  ROSY PERCH, daughter of Bill and Susan Perch  EVA WHITE, a waitress and motel maid FRED WEBER, a motel bartender SUSAN PERCH, wife of Bill Perch, mother o [...]


We tell the story every year—
how we peered from the windows, shades drawn—
though nothing really happened,
the charred grass now green again.

A Kind of Cracker Camelot

In her highly acclaimed first book, Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene focused on a little known patch of the large and complex quilt that is the Southern civil rights movement. She peopled it with characters who were both courageous and flawed, and the end result offered us a fresh and illuminating insight into the difficult and intractable problem of race in this country. Her newest book, The Temple Bombing, works from the same recipe. This time the event is the little known 1958 bombing of Atlanta's reform Jewish Temple. Greene's characters are an indefatigable young rabbi, Jacob Rothschild; a violent group of bigots intent on finding a Jewish conspiracy behind the country's racial turmoil; a burgeoning Southern city on the cusp of radical change; and a host of civic and business leaders whose stance on civil rights is guided by the exigencies of healthy commerce rather than by moral conviction.