Public Policy and the Poor

“. . . the poor, once economically empowered, are the most determined fighters in the battle to solve the population problem, end illiteracy, and live healthier, better lives. When policy makers finally realize that the poor are their partners, rather than bystanders or enemies, we will progress much faster than we do today.”

–Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

2 thoughts on “Public Policy and the Poor”

  1. Mark,
    So this is unrelated. After maybe four failed attempts at reading Gravity’s Rainbow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like it that much. Meanwhile, I’ve loved all the other Pynchon I’ve read without reservation. Especially Mason & Dixon. So my question is, should I read Against the Day? What are your thoughts?


  2. James, I can understand your frustration with Gravity’s Rainbow, and I think that you may encounter the same issues with Against the Day, as I felt that Against the Day was very similar to Gravity’s Rainbow in that while reading it, it can be very hard to maintain focus and the ability to relate to its multitudinous characters. I also especially loved Mason & Dixon, and I think part of why that novel worked so well was that Pynchon stuck out the whole thing with his focus primarily on its two wonderful main characters. In Against the Day, the narrative sweeps scatteredly amongst its plethora of characters, with sometimes said characters seeming to shift in personality and inclination in their absence from the spotlight.

    That said, however, I don’t want to belittle the absolute genius of much of Against the Day’s passages. There really are some pristine moments of beauty embedded throughout the giant book, that somehow can keep you adrift through the befuddlement, maybe. There also are some wonderfully pointed and tongue-in-cheek descriptions of various world locations that feel quite true in that typical Pynchonian kind of way. I admit that I kept reading through Against the Day simply because I didn’t want to abandon it after having put so much time and effort into it already. And I did grow to like it more as I neared the end, which either was because my focus increased, or Pynchon’s prose gained clarity.

    Against the Day also seems to contain the most blatant sexuality of any of Pynchon’s prior works; some of the characters spend most of their journey sleeping around in an increasingly promiscuous fashion. At first this was kind of disturbing and perverted, but by the end, Pynchon’s characters seem to approach a kind of transcendence through sexual experimentation.

    So to sum up my thoughts here more cogently in answer to your question: I think that if Gravity’s Rainbow wasn’t your cup of tea, then you would probably do best to avoid Against the Day. I myself was hoping for another Mason & Dixon, and there are certainly elements of M&D in Against the Day, but not with the same cohesive hilarity. Against the Day certainly is Pynchon, and certainly has its moments of Pynchon’s most astounding prose—but honestly, when there’s so many great books out there to read, why force yourself to slog through a 1085 page behemoth if you’re not completely inspired to do so?

    I hope that helps!

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