My first exposure to Malcolm Gladwell came through a New York Times Magazine (or something) profile. I remember they used a line I liked: they described him as ,”a young person’s conception of what an old person thinks a young person looks like”. It goes without saying that Gladwell pushes all of my intellectual buttons as if he owned them: I’m a big fan of counterintuitive narratives (and when I’m not a fan of them, I enjoy getting steamed up in defending the conventional wisdom), I think that he has an unusual talent for drawing connections between hard data and numbers and the human emotions that bring those numbers to life. It took me a little while to really get into his stories- I have a tendancy to resist exploring things that seem like they were created for me- but I enjoy them very much. Here’s a couple that I read recently:
“The Courthouse Ring”– This was a little hard for me to read. It’s a pretty brutal takedown of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” relating it to the race-accomodationists in the South at the time that the book was published. I still don’t know if I agree with his condemnation of the book. I don’t know if it’s right to judge people on an absolute scale of prejudice. Is it enough to be merely ahead of one’s time? Actually, now that I’m thinking of race, Gladwell’s 1996 piece, “Black Like Them” is one of my favorite essays on the subject.
“Smaller“- Malcom Gladwell on diapers. Mucho fun.