In this issue, The American Scholar continues to prove it’s one of the best publishers of essays in the country (the poetry–by Rita Dove, etc.
In this issue, The American Scholar continues to prove it’s one of the best publishers of essays in the country (the poetry–by Rita Dove, etc.–ain’t bad either). While reading the many smart pieces, I found myself wishing NPR would start a station that concentrated solely on this type of provocative cultural reporting for those of us already weary of election-year coverage. Alas, until then, we must be content with print, but then writing of this caliber makes the pages fly. Adam Gopnik leads with an essay on the foibles and joys of that strangest of creatures–an American in Paris. Natalie Anger has an amusing rant on scientists, religion and public funding: “I’d like to think that one of these days we’ll leave superstition and delusional thinking and Jerry Falwell behind. Scientists would like that too. But for now, they like their grants even more.” Carol Munder’s lovely, diaphanous photographs of bronze statuettes provide a springboard for Annie Dillard’s equally lovely musings on the Etruscan society that produced them, while Laura Shapiro gives a wonderfully funny account of what might be termed the feminist/anti-feminist history of Betty Crocker, who was, as you might guess, entirely an invention of General Mills. Yet for all the heavy-hitters, a poignant essay about ecology entwined with a history of maple-sugaring on his family’s land by Devin Corbin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, shows that the Scholar values quality as much as name. This issue convinced me that I would be a fool not to subscribe. [The American Scholar, The Phi Beta Kappa Society, 1606 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009. Email: [email protected] Single issue $9. http://www.pbk.org/pubs/amscholar.htm] – KL