Not Normal: A Progressive’s Diary of the Year After Trump’s Election
Stuart Shapiro’s Not Normal is, as the secondary title indicates, a collection of informal essays Shapiro posted on various blogs and social media sites throughout the first year of Trump’s presidency. It’s reassuring to see people like Shapiro keeping logs of the strange events daily spilling out of the current White House. Because, given the absurd rate at which the scandals, hirings, firings, investigations, and tweet storms are being thrown at us, it’s easy to lose track of, well…most of it.
Shapiro was writing these reflections for social media, so his voice is familiar and his relationship with grammar sometimes spotty. In spite of Shapiro’s casual voice, the book is often exquisitely painful to read. Not through any fault of Shapiro’s but because of the knowledge the reader brings to the events he’s chronicling in real time. The optimism he shows in his entries following the initial success at saving Obamacare, for example, is gut-wrenching, bringing with it renewed grief and despair. But even in dredging up such long-lost hopes, the book is doing important work simply by noting and reflecting on events that otherwise would have long since agglomerated into the growing pool of indistinguishable–however horrifying–events. For example, remember when Sean Spicer (oh, yeah, him!) insisted that Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons? Or when Greg Gianforte body-slammed a reporter and was subsequently elected to the US House of Representatives? Or the mass-shooting in Alexandria? Me neither. And that’s not normal. Nor is it okay.
The book is an important real-time catalog of Trump’s first year in office, which, I imagine, will only become more surprising to revisit as time goes on and these events retreat back into the fog of scandal obscuring this administration. The book is an interesting if not exceptional read, but I recommend it as a historically relevant chronicle of a series of bizarre and troubling events.
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