Inside the February Issue
May Jeong on the peace process in Afghanistan, Anthony Heilbut on black America’s civil war over gay rights, Alice Gregory on the world of miniatures, a story by John Edgar Wideman, a resister’s guide to Trump, and more
A few days from now, barring an act of God or a verifiable Blu-Ray release from the Kremlin’s video arm, Donald Trump will be sworn in as president of the United States. The time for rhetorical shouts and murmurs is over. Inveighing against Trump, whining about the sheer unlikeliness of his ascent, won’t do any good—indeed, such pure animus seems to make him stronger. What’s needed instead is some calm, shrewd, practical thinking about the best path forward: a guide for the politically perplexed. And that is what we have tried to provide with our new forum. Eleven distinguished writers have contributed to “Trump: A Resister’s Guide,” each with a distinct approach to the current, soul-crushing conundrum. Corey Robin and Wesley Yang wrestle with the failures of neoliberalism and meritocracy, while Tim Barker urges us to resist the divide-and-conquer techniques that have served the Right so well for decades. Katrina Forrester takes on the antifeminist backlash, Lawrence Jackson proposes a novel model for resistance—the old-school Afrocentrism that animated Baltimore politics during the 1980s—and Sarah Schulman, an ACT UP veteran, shares the lessons of that earlier struggle. All this plus similarly perceptive pieces from Celina Su, Kate Crawford, Simone White, and a two-part invention from Nimmi Gowrinathan and Valeria Luiselli.
Elsewhere in the issue, May Jeong chronicles the tentative, collapse-prone peace process in Afghanistan, which should pose an interesting problem for an isolationist president with some trigger-happy associates. In “The Number That No Man Could Number,” Anthony Heilbut explores a civil war in black America, which pits the intensely conservative Pentecostal church against its gay parishioners. “Mistaken Identities” shines a light on a little-known government racket: the use of bogus travel documents to deport aliens, often to countries in which they have never previously set foot. On a lighter note—so essential in these dark times—Alice Gregory guides us through the cloistered, myopic, and immensely pleasurable world of miniatures, those doll-house-scaled micro-objects that, as the author declares, “have always filled me with a devious and urgent covetousness.” (Of course you want them!) We also have a long poem by Graham Foust, described by Ben Lerner in his introduction as an aesthetic love child of Wallace Stevens and Johnny Cash.
In Readings, Cyrus Console buys a mouse, Eileen Myles and Jill Soloway square off for a frank exchange about their relationship (Soloway: “I wasn’t just her femme girlfriend, I was her dumb femme girlfriend”), and we get an advisory from Finland’s World Wife-Carrying Championship. Justin E.H. Smith reviews the history of vindictive nationalism (is there any other kind?), Sam Sacks gives a thorough body frisk to Paul Auster’s latest novel, and Walter Kirn delivers an ornery Easy Chair column on the “freedom to be led astray, which it would be folly to restrict, lest it foster complacency and tempt the devil.”