Culture

In the book spotlight: New spring books

Culture | Several new spring books comment on American culture from different anti-establishment perspectives.

Issue: "Weapons of mass hysteria," March 15, 2003

Several new spring books comment on American culture from different anti-establishment perspectives. As a boy growing up in the South, Michael Graham believed that Northerners were coming to rescue his region from "racism, cronyism, anti-intellectualism, irrational religiosity, and general bad taste." When he went north as an adult, he was surprised to find that all those "redneck" ways of thinking had taken over the country. In Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War, he describes in often humorous, sometimes offensive, language how "Southern" ways of thinking underlie liberal arguments in favor of public schools, affirmative action, victimhood, etc.

Actress Patricia Heaton's Motherhood and Hollywood describes her life in a breezy, humorous (and in a very few cases, slightly crude) fashion. In passing the co-star of Everybody Loves Raymond writes about alcohol, marriage, kids, plastic surgery, her Catholic childhood and search for faith, and her quest for normalcy on the west coast. Bill Kauffman's Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette is a curmudgeonly (and sometimes more than slightly crude) diatribe against homogeneity written by someone who fled his hometown (Batavia, N.Y.) only to return to celebrate its idiosyncrasies. He regrets the loss of the town's distinctive buildings and individuals and celebrates the particular in a way sometimes crude and often abrasive but always provocative.

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