Ned Balbo is one of the most gifted critics of popular culture writing today. His criticism, however, appears not as journalism but as poetry. He ranges widely through contemporary American life, while remaining in touch with one of the great breeding grounds of the American dream — the Long Island suburbs, where he grew up. There the nightmares are as vivid as the dreams. Read “The Case Against Standardized Testing” for a taste of the evil potential in a walk home through the neighborhood. Here in Upcycling Paumanok is the vital history of one of the crucial American places.— Mark Jarman
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