Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Test Your Nerd Power

I like The Atlantic, but I rarely remember to pick it up. It recently called out to me, however, from an airport newsstand... partly because I do enjoy it and partly because, what with it being the magazine's 150th anniversary and all, this particular issue is extra thick, which appealed to my inner cheap bitch.

The theme of the issue is "The Future of the American Idea". To explore this theme, the editors invited an impressive roster of writers and other luminaries to contribute anything they wanted to write on this theme.

So here's a fun (or stupid or boring, depending on how well you do) quiz:

See if you can correctly match each writer with the first bit of his or her piece. (I've thrown in one easy little gift question, because I'm nice that way.)

Joyce Carol Oates
Eric Schlosser

Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners)

John Updike

Tom Wolfe

Azar Nafisi

David Foster Wallace

A. "On the first page of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck informs us that the Widow Douglas decided to take him up and 'sivilize' him, but 'it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in all her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer, I lit out.'"

B. "The American idea, as I understand it, is to trust people to know their own minds and to act in their own enlightened self-interest, with a necessary respect for others."

C. "How heartily sick the world has grown, in the first seven years of the 21st century, of the American idea!"

D. "Are some things still worth fighting for? Is the American idea* one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment?"

E. "Since you asked... the American idea was born at approximately 5 p.m. on Friday, December 2, 1803, the moment Thomas Jefferson sprang the so-called pell-mell on the new British ambassador, Anthony Merry, at dinner in the White House."

F. "The original American idea was that everyone should be treated with equal respect and dignity."

G. "My idea of America was formed by stories about the Founding Fathers that my grandfather told me when I was a boy, by road trips through the Rockies with my parents, by reading almost everything by Mark Twain, by Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau, especially Whitman, by Kerouac and John Dos Passos, by Frank Capra films, Coppola films, Jimmy Stewart, and Billy Jack, by childhood memories of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and their murders, by the war in Vietnam and the protests against it, by Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, underground comics, the 1977 New York Yankees, loud music of all kinds, fireworks, hamburgers, and French fries."

Edited to add: Oh. The answers. You'll probably be wanting those. I'll post them sometime tomorrow. So hurry and get your guesses in. There may be prizes involved!


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm....I don't know all of these authors, which is probably deplorable. But nevertheless:

Joyce Carol Oates --- not sure. C, I feel.

Eric Schlosser --- B. just a stab.

Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners)--- indisputably F. She talks about this a lot.

John Updike --- I'll go with A, the classics reference.

Tom Wolfe --- E.

Azar Nafisi ---D. By haphazard process of elimination.

David Foster Wallace --- G. There isn't a footnote, but that sentence does go on for an awfully long time.

--- Diablevert, whom google/blogger does not like today.

b*babbler said...

Since I have this issue, I won't play along.

However, you nicely described my feeling towards The Atlantic. We even have a subscription that I can rarely remember to pick up and read. I love it, but for some reason have a hard time committing to the length of the articles, especially since time has disappeared with the age of Peanut. But the 150 Anniversary issue (with perfect binding)... sigh!

Anonymous said...

I am only familiar with the three female authors, oddly enough, although I have passing familiarity with Updike and Wolfe. Here are my answers:

Joyce Carol Oates: B
Eric Schlosser: E
Judith Martin: F
John Updike: C
Tom Wolfe: D
Azar Nafisi: A
David Foster Wallace: G

Anonymous said...

Okay, here is my stab...beginning with some that sounded familiar and eliminating a bit from there...

A. John Updike
B. Azar Nafisi
C. Joyce Carol Oates
D. Eric Schlosser
E. Tom Wolfe
F. Judith Martin
G. David Foster Wallace