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John Edgar Wideman Against the World
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John Edgar Wideman likes to be in places where people don’t know who he is or what he does for a living. He spends most of the year in New York, but two of his favorite people here are his barber and his massage therapist, both Chinese immigrants who barely speak English. He was explaining this to me in December, over a lunch of rare steak-frites and Bordeaux at Lucien, a bistro a few blocks from his Lower East Side apartment. “I go to a bar, I get to know the bartenders and the manager,” he said. “That’s where I get my mezcal, that’s my place, that’s what I do. But parties, hanging out?” He shook his head. “I don’t have anybody living around me who has much of a sense of what I do. That’s exactly what I like.”

Lucien Bahaj, the restaurant’s owner, and his wife, Phyllis, came over to the table to greet Wideman. It was clear they knew him as a regular but, judging from their conversation, not at all as the author of 21 highly distinguished works of fiction and nonfiction or as a MacArthur genius who was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters or, for that matter, as one of the first three African-Americans to ever earn a Rhodes Scholarship.

If they knew any of that about Wideman the writer, they would also have to know this about Wideman the person: He is the older brother of a man convicted of murder, serving a life sentence without the chance of parole; the uncle of a young man shot execution-style in his own home; the father of a boy who, at age 16, woke up one night while traveling with a group of campers, got out of bed and stabbed his roommate to death while he was sleeping. The drama of Wideman’s personal history can seem almost mythical, refracting so many aspects of the larger black experience in America, an experience defined less by its consistencies, perhaps, than by its many contradictions — the stunning and ongoing plurality of victories and defeats.

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  1. Trelane says:

    With this guy’s family background I’d really be concerned about regression toward the mean.

  2. El Dato says:

    Why “against the world”?

    He’s a writer, isn’t he?

  3. Svigor says:

    America deserves to see the horrible McCain family driven out of politics. Their family motto is “Invade the World, Invite the World.”

    Further fights between McCain and Trump seem almost certain.

    Neither likes to back down from a fight, and it is hard to believe that Trump’s criticisms of McCain haven’t got under his skin.

    They have certainly irritated his family members.

    Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, lashed out at Trump this week, nothing that her father, grandfather and brothers had all served in the military while Trump had not.

    Meghan McCain is an airhead with a radio show. She’s such a bimbo and RINO that she never takes calls from the audience, probably because she knows they’ll beat her like a rented mule. Instead she spends her air time interviewing her fellow media personalities, most of them leftists or RINOs.

    E.g., she’s too dumb to know that she’s on no firmer ground than Trump is; she hasn’t served in the military, either.

    “McCain is very proud of his ‘maverick’ brand and Donald Trump is who he is. So I don’t think the two will ever be close,” one Trump ally outside of the White House said.

    Yeah, “brand” is the perfect way to describe it. It really served the American public well in 2008, when McCain ran against Hussein, and uttered no criticism of Hussein at all.

    That’s how the whole McCain clan operates. I heard parts of blockhead McCain’s show many times, and heard hear reach levels of vitriol against Trump that she never remotely approached when talking about Hussein. In fact, I never heard her speak of Hussein with any rancor at all. Trump, on the other hand, was on the receiving end of many a blockhead diatribe. The McCain clan are suckups to the leftist media, and “Mavericks” toward the right. That’s their whole schtick; RINO squared.

    The McCains would rather see America go to war with Russia, than defeat the left at home.

    John McCain is the same venal wretch who once waved a $20 (or maybe $50) bill in front of a crowd of blue-collar workers and told them they wouldn’t cut lawns for it, the way Mexicans would (this was the gist of the story, it’s been years so I may be off on the specifics). He’s cheap, too; as soon as a bunch of them offered to cut his lawn for the bill, it disappeared back into his pocket. Oh, and he’s a runty lil manlet, and he has the worst case of halitosis I’ve ever smelled.

    Will the voters not rid us of this meddlesome family of blockheads?

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