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The Aids Memorial

Books, Essays : Wisdom with the benefi t of doubt

Par Tim Adams - 5 mn

Out 047 635
Jonathan Franzen, whose essays take on the political crisis from an environmental vantage. Talia Herman

Nuanced, elegiac essay collections by two New Yorker stalwarts offer welcome relief amid the current rancour of US politics

The End of the End of the Earth
Jonathan Franzen
4th Estate, £16.99, pp230

In Mid-Air
Adam Gopnik
Riverrun, £25, pp250

Over the past couple of years, in the face of relentless attack from the 45th president and his cronies, the best liberal American journalism has held firm to principle. The phoney assault on “fake news” is best defended with an insistence on nuance not vitriol, on fact not invective. The opposite of populist rhetoric is not self-righteous anger but singular human complexity. That latter voice – which by its nature is discursive and playful – has often been most reliably heard in the pages of the New Yorker magazine. These two new collections of essays, by New Yorker stalwarts, can be read, in part, as a welcome alternative to the cur...