Monday, August 13, 2012

The Secret Scripture > Review > Edit The Secret Scripture (Kindle Edition) by Sebastian Barry

A psychiatrist in charge of a decrepit psychiatric asylum--you could hardly call it a hospital--is faced with the need to prepare for its closure by planning the discharge or transfer of all his patients. One of those patients is an old woman claiming to be one hundred years old. Like many of the older patients, the circumstances of her commitment are lost to history, and the psychiatrist must evaluate not only her present condition, but also whether she was ever mentally ill or dangerous to anybody. He begins to interview her, spending more time with her than he has spent in her decades as a patient. Unfortunately for him, she is determined to withhold the vital information he is so interested in obtaining.

The real story is set forth not so much in the conversations between doctor and patient, but in the pages of a journal, or daybook, that Dr. Grene begins to keep and the testament that Roseanne McNulty--if that is her real name--conceals under a floorboard in her room as she finishes each chapter. Barry maintains an excellent tension as the reader tries to determine whom to believe and who is the unreliable narrator: Dr. Grene, Roseanne, or the priest whose testimony seems to be the basis of Roseanne's commitment.

The Secret Scripture is full of believable and engaging characters and explores the themes of the Irish Civil War and the power of the Catholic church in Ireland. Contrary to my largely negative reaction to so many Booker Prize books, this shortlisted novel fully rewards the effort and time spent in reading it. I've awarded it a solid four stars, but it could easily be four and a half.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What I learned from Mitt Romney

I just learned something new from Mitt Romney about the hard-working American people. Can you guess what it is?

Sure enough, according to Mitt Romney, the hard-working Americans are all white! Who would have thought?

If you watch the video you'll see what I mean.

Set aside for the moment the fact that the claim made in the ad is a lie: nothing that President Obama has done "guts" welfare reform. Instead, pay attention to the text and subtext.

The text is pretty straightforward: by "gutting" President Clinton's welfare reform President Obama has betrayed hard-working Americans and favored people who want to just sit at home and collect welfare checks. This text follows a standard Republican theme for the last few decades.

So does the subtext. The ad shows us video of the hard-working Americans that Romney wants to protect, and every single one of those hard-working Americans is white. Every single one.

Romney here is following in the proud tradition of Jesse Helms, and other Republicans who have made blatant appeals to racism.

Usually, when Republicans do this kind of thing it works. We'll see what happens this time. Meanwhile, prepare for more as the Republicans show their true colors.