Each year in the United States, 3.5 million people are homeless, with 100,000 homeless vets. If you are homeless, you are also hungry, and you likely don't know where your next meal will come from. Is this really America?
The 1800s were of course a time of blatant racism, and many authors reflected that by depicting fictional characters of color in horribly stereotyped ways. Or they omitted those characters entirely, as if the world was populated by whites only.
One of the most memorable characters in American literature is stupid in the oldest and truest sense of the word. Although he appears to be warm, human, and inhabits the body of a man, his mind and personality never progressed past childhood.
Of course, when songs so ebullient and/or passionate are this good, who's going to complain? Although a number of the Encores! dust-offs have moved to Broadway, this one certainly won't. Never mind, since it has enough going for it right where it is.
With "Born in the U.S.A." Springsteen is entering into a dialogue with the American public, asking them about Vietnam, "Is this what you want our country to be associated with? Is this really the America we live in? Can we do better?"
Scientists had experimented with the possibility of showing the world in color since even before the late 1800s, but it was the invention known as Kodachrome that delivered "the colors the human eye perceives" not just to obsessive eccentrics but to housewives, Boy Scouts and Rotarians.
Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is an epic tragedy that leaves readers shocked and awed. But, along the way, there are some delightfully funny interludes -- most notably the pre-voyage scene in which Ishmael and Queequeg end up in the same bedroom.
As I write this on Thanksgiving weekend, I give thanks to the books that turn adolescent readers into adult readers. For me, it was one 19th-century novel by a woman, and one 20th-century novel by a man.
Reading a beloved book twice, thrice, or more is a craving that can't be denied. It's pleasurable, comforting, and relaxing -- partly because you don't have to figure out what the author is doing from scratch.
My list includes the authors' names, the number of novels I've read by each of them, and my three favorite novels (in rank order) by each of them. If you have different favorites by those authors, I'd like to hear about that.