A collection of sharp-edged, humanistic pieces about the American heartland, originally published between 2012 and 2014.
Now an op-ed columnist with the Globe and Mail in Toronto, Kendzior, who lives in St. Louis, addresses a number of issues in these essays: the failure of coastal (and other) elites to understand the Midwest; the daunting expenses of undergraduate and graduate education programs, expenses that serve to deny opportunities for the less privileged; the endangered freedoms of speech and the press; the spread of unpaid internships, another way that only the well-to-do gain access to jobs and opportunities; the good and bad aspects of expanding social media; the daunting difficulties many face due to race and gender; the widespread practice among universities of employing large numbers of low-paid adjunct professors; and the profound lack of empathy of the haves for the have-nots. The author explores these and other instances of economic and social inequality and indifference, noting how “the Midwest, in decline for decades, still suffers disproportionately.” Throughout the book, Kendzior adorns her paragraphs with apothegms, most of which are pithy and effective (“The job you work increasingly reflects the money you already had”), though some seem a bit forced or lifted from a motivational poster (“Open your eyes to where you are, and see where you can go”). Nonetheless, the author’s overwhelming message shines through: We are all human, and we must address the fact that there is a declining amount of equality and social justice. In a final essay, from September 2017, she worries about Donald Trump and his “autocratic policies” and what she sees as the dangers to democracy his presence has already elevated in America.
Passionate pieces that repeatedly assail the inability of many to empathize and to humanize.