Recommended reading

Here are some of the more interesting articles I’ve come across on the intertubes lately:

— Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell writes about the virtues, and also the limits, of one of my favorite magazines, Tom Frank’s splendid Baffler, which, following a 2-year absence, has made a most welcome return.

— The case for the pervasively corrosive effects of inequality becomes more damning every day. Paul Krugman reports on new research that suggest that inequality and lack of economic mobility are associated with high rates of teen pregnancy. (Speaking of Krugman, if for some reason you crave yet more evidence of what gigantic horse’s asses conservatives can be, check out this recent example of Krugman Derangement Syndrome).

— The wonderful Rebecca Traister argues that the war on women has helped feminists rediscover our joy.

— In the New York Review of Books, Garry Wills reviews the latest volume of Robert Caro’s monumental LBJ bio, focusing on the epic, astonishingly vitriolic political feud between LBJ and RFK. Sample quote: “I doubt that Caro, when he began his huge project, thought he would end up composing a moral disquisition on the nature of hatred. But that is what, in effect, he has given us. Hate breeds hate in an endless spiral.”

— Also in the current NYRB, Darryl Pinckney has written an extraordinary essay about, among other things, Trayvon Martin, Barack Obama, black identity, and the war between “the black revolutionary imperative” and “the materialism of American society.” It’s a must-read.

— And finally, I’m a bit late in getting to this, but I can’t recommend this recent, and remarkable, London Review of Books essay about Marilyn Monroe by British academic Jacqueline Rose highly enough. Even if you think you’ve been Marilyn’d to death and that there’s nothing more about the woman that could possibly interest you, trust me, Rose will surprise you. Most crucially, Rose reclaims Marilyn as an icon of American liberalism, and reveals Monroe as political activist, as a serious reader, as a tireless seeker and self-analyst: “To read Monroe’s fragments, letters, journals and poems is to realise that, however tormented, she had another life. It is to be struck by the unrelenting mental energy with which she confronted herself.” Once again it is deeply poignant to be reminded that Monroe did not live to see the rise of the second wave of the women’s movement. It’s fascinating to contemplate how she would have reacted to that world historic development.

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee