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"They need an American Dickens..."
Michael Harrington, from his introduction to The Other America: Poverty in the United States
The poor can be described statistically; they can be analyzed as a group. But they need a novelist as well as a sociologist if we are to see them. They need an American Dickens to record the smell and texture and quality of their lives. The cycles and trends, the massive forces, must be seen as affecting persons who talk and think differently.
I am not that novelist. Yet in this book I have attempted to describe the faces behind the statistics, to tell a little of the "thickness" of personal life in the other America.
It's been asked before, but it's worth asking again: who is our 21st Century Dickens?
April 12, 2009 in Books | Permalink