Magazine | November 1, 2010, Issue

Poetry

THE SUIT

My grandfather, nineteen years of age,

Falls from the pages of the unabridged

Dictionary where I keep him pressed,

A sepia print of him in his second suit,

A double-breasted serge. The satin tie

Flows from a knot held by a silver pin.

His second suit. The first, he bought

With six years of savings, pennies earned

As cabin boy, deckhand, and seaman.

The night he put it on and went ashore

Some shipmate cracked wise about the cut

Of the cloth or the man who wore it, that

Somehow one was unsuited to the other,

The one being too fine, the other crude.

Whereupon my grandfather swung at him,

And one blow led to another until the men

Whirled into a blur of fisticuffs and blood,

Fought until their clothing was in tatters.

So now he appears in his second suit,

Bought off the rack in Hong Kong or London

Just after the Great War. He’s tough

And handsome, bright-eyed, proud,

Daring the whole world to call his bluff,

Cocksure the clothes don’t make the man.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Rust Belt Revival

Call them Reagan-Hillary Democrats. That label may sound awkward, but it provides a useful description of the working-class whites who helped the Gipper secure a pair of landslides in the ...
Politics & Policy

Oslo Scores

On the second Friday in October, the customary day, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made its big announcement. This is the committee that determines the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. ...

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Country Life

The Eternal Seasons

As torrents in summer, Half dried in their channels, Suddenly rise, though the Sky is still cloudless, For rain has been falling Far off at their fountains, So hearts that are fainting Grow full to o’erflowing, And they ...
Politics & Policy

Hope from the Past

Every generation gets the George Washington it deserves. In the polyester, Watergate-era Seventies, Gore Vidal reduced America’s most revered president to a pompous figure of fun in his novel Burr, ...
Politics & Policy

Young Lisbeth

I got Dan Brown, I really did. The history was bunk, the prose was Lego, and yet there was something there — that maddening, tantalizing what’s-going-to-happen-next — that kept me ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Poetry

THE SUIT My grandfather, nineteen years of age, Falls from the pages of the unabridged Dictionary where I keep him pressed, A sepia print of him in his second suit, A double-breasted serge. The satin ...
Athwart

Action-Game Activism

We’re told the election will be about the economy. As in, “We would like to have one again.” No luxuries like social issues: When businesses can hire without worrying that ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

Practically Idealist In John Derbyshire’s most informative review of The High Tide of American Conservatism (“Bliss Was It . . . ,” October 4), he uses a familiar quote from Calvin Coolidge ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ If Congress wants to prosecute those who accept foreign money, Tim Geithner had better keep a suitcase packed. ‐ At his White House farewell, Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s departing chief ...

Most Popular

Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More
Health Care

The Puzzling Problem of Vaping

San Francisco -- A 29-story office building at 123 Mission Street illustrates the policy puzzles that fester because of these facts: For centuries, tobacco has been a widely used, legal consumer good that does serious and often lethal harm when used as it is intended to be used. And its harmfulness has been a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More
World

Wolf Warrior II Tells Us a Lot about China

The Chinese economy is taking a big hit as a result of the trade war with the U.S: A leading export indicator has fallen several months in a row, Chinese companies postponed campus recruitment, and auto and housing sales dropped. A number of U.S. manufacturers are moving production outside of China. So ... Read More