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
Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners)
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!