Sufjan Stevens and Resurrecting Small Town America

I discovered Sufjan Stevens' Illinois during a period in my life when my hometown was too small, an ill-fitting sweater. It was also a period in which I felt compelled to pin down the meaning of everything, so I spent a lot of time on songmeanings.com. I learned a lot about the album, like how Sufjan scoured historical records while also compiling personal anecdotes from friends and Internet chat room users during the album's songwriting phase. A lot of the allusions are to pretty famous events or figures—like the Sears Tower or Carl Sandburg, but I found myself drawn to reading about the localities mentioned in "Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!"

A Zero-Sum Game

In the last few months, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four jumped to Amazon's bestsellers list and The Handmaid's Tale earned Hulu its first-ever Emmy series nomination. Such is the cultural landscape in which Eduardo Rabasa makes his novelistic debut with A Zero-Sum Game: an audience attuned to the way our society's biggest ills can be exposed through exploring an exaggerated depiction of them. Rather than Orwell's totalitarian state, it's neoliberalism that Rabasa takes to its logical conclusion.
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