This week, ponder what happens to a spoiled American Dream, celebrate the success of Pinterest, listen to a fascinating weekly podcast, and leaf through poetry to celebrate Black History Month.
On Your Kindle
American Pastoral , by Philip Roth
Seymour “the Swede” Levov is a symbol of the American Dream. A handsome, athletic high school superstar, he has inherited his father’s respectable glove-manufacturing business and married a fellow golden-child, the beautiful Dawn, former Miss New Jersey. This Pulitzer-prize winning story by Philip Roth focuses on the Swede’s unraveling when his daughter Merry, an angry, politically radical girl affected by a childhood stutter, commits an act of political violence.
Throughout the novel, as Merry goes into hiding and the Swede is left to unpack his feelings about her crime and his own guilt, Roth explores the disintegration of the facially “perfect” family. The reader tries to elicit what darkness lies beneath the Swede’s sunny exterior, what trauma could have “messed up” his child so much. Most interestingly, some such tragedy seems impossible to find, which begs the question: What causes such incredible, hateful anger in the face of such positivity?
On Your Smartphone
Pinterest Succeeds by Giving Ladies What they Want , by Tracie Egan Morrissey
I’ve said it before: I love Pinterest . Hours can easily fly by as I scroll through images in category after category, clicking links to recipes, DIY projects, and book recommendations. This article offers a response to negativity focused on Pinterest for being “frivolous.” Morrissey makes an eloquent argument for the merits of the site: “What's fascinating about Pinterest is that it seems to have identified what women want from the internet by simply allowing women to identify what they want.” Read this if you’re a Pinterest-enthusiast or are interested by the role of aesthetics in an Internet age.
On a Podcast
This American Life , from Chicago Public Media
If you’re sick of listening to the same tired talk radio or commercial-heavy music stations on your morning commute, save one day a week for the fascinating and unique This American Life , one of the most popular podcasts in the country. Each week, a new theme arises (this week, it’s conventions—not the political kind, but the strange, intense, fanatical kind), and you can download the current podcast free from This American Life’s website . Get an in-depth look at something unique every week—and save your stale morning radio for another day.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , poem by Maya Angelou
In honor of Black History month this February, treat yourself to the luscious poetry of Maya Angelou. In this esteemed poem that contrasts a free bird and a caged one, Angelou artfully masters language, using words and sounds to convey her long-form metaphor about freedom.
When Angelou describes the free bird, it is with a rollicking, care-free meter, replete with enjambment that echoes the “leaps” of the bird who “floats downstream” and “dares to claim the sky.” The caged bird, alternatively, is caged by a strict meter and rhyme scheme, in which the one end word that stands alone, not rhyming, is the all-important “freedom.” In fewer than 30 lines, Angelou paints a heartbreaking picture of the free and the caged, firmly calling attention to the singular necessity of elusive freedom.
Photo courtesy of Mo Riza.
TopicsEducation , What to Read on the Subway This Week by Hope Bordeaux , Break Room , Book Reviews
Molly is The Daily Muse’s resident bookworm. She currently works in communications and is begrudgingly learning to be a grownup. She likes coffee shops and (the bakery aisle of) grocery stores, reading about other places but not necessarily traveling to them, keeping things clean, and stalking the Harvard Opportunes, her beloved college a cappella group.More from this Author