This month I’ve been reading Stiffed: The Roots of Modern Male Rage, by Susan Faludi. Actually, I’ve been re-reading it; the book was originally published in 1999 with the subtitle The Betrayal of the American Man and was reissued in 2019 with a new author’s foreword that adds a Trump-era, #MeToo perspective. Faludi is a superb researcher, interviewer, and writer (and believe me, that’s a tough trifecta), and Stiffed—what a perfect title—holds up shockingly well. Faludi’s mid-1990s reporting took her to Vietnam veterans, diehard Cleveland Browns fans, an Alternatives to Violence group, laid-off defense workers, and meetings of Promise Keepers, a Christian men’s association. She investigates the post-World War II redefinition of masculinity as “something to drape over the body, not draw from inner resources” and to be “displayed, not demonstrated.” I couldn’t help reflecting on Stiffed when I read a recent New York Times roundtable discussion with eight men who described themselves as politically conservative and who repeatedly expressed a wistful longing for days gone by—the same days, some 25 years ago, that Faludi wrote about: a time of layoffs and gang violence and painful domestic rifts. Moral: Beware the nostalgia trap and the Golden Age fallacy; there never were any good old days, except for the ones that seemed good because you were a little kid and didn’t know any better. (You may also be interested in the letters to the editor about that roundtable discussion. I’ve unlocked both links so that nonsubscribers can access them.)
Why A-list names often aren’t A+ clients. (Nora Trice for A Hundred Monkeys)
Attention, all you skinflints frugal people! Here are some of my Visual Thesaurus columns that are now unlocked and available to non-subscribers: All about the -core suffix; my picks for brand names of the year for 2021; the lingo of film noir. Don’t you wish you’d read them earlier? You can—a subscription is just $19.95 a year! Give a gift to yourself, or to Mom for Mother’s Day!