Uncivil Rest and the Search for Authenticity: Thoughts on Dana Spiotta’s “Wayward”

"Wayward"

Dana Spiotta’s Wayward follows the contentious path of Sam, who falls in love with a decrepit yet glorious Arts and Crafts bungalow in downtown Syracuse, leaving behind her husband Matt and daughter Ally to start a new life. While the novel doesn’t jab at the tilt of western society — and America in particular, toppled by the election of Trump — it stabs us straight in the heart, right where the knife belongs. Locked into a society that seems to evolve without us, it’s driven by a tribal mentality with the help of social media on steroids and textbook activism so finding her place without the anchor of family is a challenge. AIgorithms, hardly artificial as they represent the worst of human tendencies and rarely intelligent, reduce the lives around her into a ravenous, heterogenous blob that consumes anything and everything 24/7. All of which is evident when it spills over into group think as activists and renegades stake their place in a kind of Kabuki theatre of the absurd. Alongside the need to promote that which they consume, bloated by misinformation and seduced by material wealth, they belong in a parallel universe, which Spiotta brilliantly illuminates through her laser-sharp prose, revealing an admirable take on culture where authenticity isn’t valued over recognition.

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Sunday Stories: “The Tao of Sharkey”

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The Tao of Sharkey
by Eric Williams

Among the staff, Sharkey was somewhat of a folk hero. He was the only person that seemed to be able to do it right, work at the restaurant without any side effects, without needing to abuse something or someone, without, it seemed, a care in the world. He was a talented street photographer and would ride his bike around all day taking photos on his medium-format film camera, and at night, he tended bar.

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