Tools for Tots: On Alexandra Lange’s “The Design of Childhood”

“What,” Lange asks, “were children doing in the sand?” As she frames it, the children were participating in a kind of history themselves. She brings her considerable powers, both as an observer of objects and spaces and as a writer of sentences, to The Design of Childhood, which provides history and commentary on toys, houses,

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Being There

The gambit works, setting the stage for exploring a series of parenting dilemmas from when to tell your kids about Santa to when to buy them an iPhone, and even several musings over when and why we push our children to do the things we used to do. “We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

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Breaking Out of Narrative Prison in Debra Jo Immergut’s “The Captives”

Like The Captives, it darts and zigzags between narrators and eras nimbly, forcing the reader to stay alert and even reread passages rather than gulp and gallop through the text. Both The Captives and Follow Me into the Dark circle and dive and shimmy, avoiding the Freytagian pyramid entirely. Immergut and Sullivan prove their daring

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Left Mountebanks: On Agnès Poirier’s “Left Bank: Art, Passion, and the Rebirth of Paris, 1940–1950”

Equally perplexing is Poirier’s method. Just as she gloms onto Cronin’s Beckett, she clings to biographer Emmanuel Todd’s Camus. He hurriedly urged de Gaulle to declare the Republic. These last gestures, of course, utterly change the novella’s meaning. Instead, these conflicting approaches suggest a lazy person’s guide to writing history, one that amounts to the

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“Don’t Take Away the Flavor”: Exploring the Here and Now of L.A. with Lynell George

My mother, who you know, was an English teacher, and there were always books around, and she read to us because that was important. It’s not the L.A. She edited my essay about the Uprisings, and we were all working under duress. and Boyle Heights — my gosh, there’s a bunch of stuff about Boyle

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A Love Letter to Wild Bees

Nutritional deprivation is the second challenge. Suffice it to say that wild bee enthusiasts disdainfully refer to honeybees as “pollen pigs,” an allusion to the broad spectrum of flowers they visit. Although wild bees are ecologically critical, funding to study them has been dwarfed by honeybee research dollars for the obvious reason: honeybees’ perceived agricultural

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Hard Stands

He tells those massed around to follow him to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and warns that officers have deployed there. The government’s payments to the tribe never materialized, or they went straight to merchants. Soon the refuge was crowded with people claiming to be “patriots,” like the Pacific Patriots Network and Idaho Three Percenters (the

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The Vigilante Style in California Politics: At a Symposium in the Central Valley, Devin Nunes and Militia Hero Ammon Bundy Tap into a Deep Well of Agrarian Rage

“We are the champions of abundance,” said John Duarte, a grower from the Central Valley who became a patriot movement hero while defending himself from federal charges that he damaged endangered species habitat. Olmsted, a professor of History at the University of California, Davis, said that workers weren’t the only ones vulnerable to the anti-labor

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Rock of Ages

[…] We pray every night to make it out of this hell we stuck in.” In fact, Khanchuz, one of the primary subjects in Zanfagna’s ethnography, is a former L.A. His only route to God must be invented. We’re in this together.” ¤ Frank Johnson is a poet and essayist born and raised in East

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Hate Speech: An Imaginary Debate

DELGADO: Many other countries, including European democracies, have passed such laws, including laws that punish hate speech as a crime, especially to protect historically oppressed groups. My friend Jamila made the dean’s list last semester.” STROSSEN: I’m glad Professor Delgado brought up this example because it reveals several important points. Professor Delgado, what can we

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The Cow Whisperer

If the characteristic expression of cows is the vacant stare, then Young is here to tell you that the stare is not vacant. He has also written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. And, in one regard, even the cattle get short shrift. The Irishman James Sullivan —

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Melancholic Mythologies: “Half Gods” and the “Mahabharata”

The story begins with an interpellation that arrests the reader with an expansive immigrant cast: You are a convenience store owner, a taxi driver, a doctor, a terrorist, an IT worker, an exchange student. Tharoor, in particular, doubled down on the epic’s allegorical resonance by mapping its narrative structure onto the founding of the nation

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