Aimee Bender reads "The Fake Nazi" & Timothy Egan Sees Through the Facebook Craze

So Thursday night I’m in the (not quite final, as I’m still feeling it) throes of a sinus infection, weak and tired and congested, home in my cold Pennsylvania house, shivering and threadbare, listening to the mice scrabble in the walls (ok: now I’m exaggerating), and I have to get up and go out in the cold world to oversee a reading on our Penn State campus by visiting writer Aimee Bender, which at this point ranks as just-another-chore, or JAC, if you will. And from the introduction on, all my miseries fade away, and I’m swept up in Aimee’s reading of “The Fake Nazi,” a sad and whimsical story published last fall in Ploughshares, here:
I don’t usually go all rhapsodic over the power of art: Why? I take it for granted. I’m usually too busy to notice. As I hope is obvious, I love my favorite books and enjoy meeting the authors, but it’s also like wallpaper in my life—nice cowboy with lariat design, if I ever bother to slow down and consider it. Aimee Bender’s reading took me away, to a sad & funny place, beyond the humdrum world of revolution in the Mideast headlines, Jersey Shore antics, and whatever that Charlie Sheen person seems to be up to this week. Read the story. It’s good. And will no doubt be in her next book o’ stories.
On a less-ebullient note, Timothy Egan has a good piece in the NY Times about the contrast between rich & poor, now and then, England and the U.S., while writing ostensibly about “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network,” here:

It’s good, smart, and cuts through the haze that is now surrounding the Wisconsin Budget Battle. When the smoke clears, you can see it’s about the rich getting richer, and trying to take away the power of the middle-class to even argue about it.

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