Something must have been in the tap water in Gloversville, N.Y., during the 1950s when Richard Russo was growing up there — something, that is, besides the formaldehyde, chlorine, lime, lead, sulfuric acid and other toxic byproducts that the town's tanneries leaked out daily.
But one day, a droplet of mead must have fallen into the local reservoir and Russo gulped it down, because, boy, does he have the poet's gift. In a paragraph or even a phrase, Russo can summon up a whole world, and the world he writes most poignantly about is that of the industrial white working class.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Over the past few years, the definition of work has changed in parts of the American economy. More and more restaurants and retailers have half as many full-time workers as they used to and twice as many part-time. They save money on pay and benefits, and they use new technology to schedule part-timers based on the season, the time of day or even on the temperature.
In the run-up to Election Day, newspaper readers usually expect to see endorsements on the editorial page, but that tradition's come into question. Last month, the Los Angeles Times received a flurry of criticism following its endorsement of President Obama, and the editorial board responded with a defense of the practice. On the other hand, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is among the papers that's decided to stop endorsing political candidates altogether. We want to hear from you: Should newspapers make political endorsements?
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Since this time last week, parts of the Northeast have been transformed. The lights are back on in many areas, the floodwaters retreated, most public transportation is up and running, and most New York City schools reopened this morning. But wreckage still blocks streets, hundreds of thousands still lack power, gas is still short in North Jersey and on Long Island.
A law degree used to pretty much guarantee a stable job. But journalist Elizabeth Lesly Stevens reports that thousands of law students are going into an industry that no longer has room for them. Stevens discusses her article with host Michel Martin, and they hear from NPR Facebook fans about whether a law degree is still worth it.
Election Day 2000 ended in a stalemate and weeks of finger-pointing and legal battles. Host Michel Martin looks at whether the country has learned the lessons from that crisis in time for Tuesday's vote. She speaks with Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute, and Robert Pastor of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University.
Author Anton Treuer has written several books, including Everything You Wanted To Know About Indians But Were Afraid To Ask. For Tell Me More's occasional "In Your Ear," series, Treuer offers his crash course on music from Indian Country.