Granta #38: We're So Happy!
This collection of stories and essays sometimes treads familiar ground but the writing is generally polished and provocative. Bill Morris's tale takes us back to Detroit 1954 when Cadillac was king, Marilyn Monroe was a sex queen and General Motors's fiercely competitive design staff tended to party and drink as hard as it worked. Patterning himself after Upton Sinclair, Jeremy Rifkin gleefully nauseates us as he details the present-day sins of the meat industry. In his first published fiction, Tracy Kidder etches the seduction of an insurance claims adjuster, who changes from a bleeding heart recruit who naively believes his company wants ``to do the right thing'' by accident victims into a callous man on the take who keeps a disgustingly messy company car and makes a play for his boss's girlfriend. Unafflicted by AIDS, Adam Mars-Jones's gay hero commits suicide and his peers are angry: ``Didn't Victor know there was a war on? . . . It seemed to us that he'd just thrown away a body that any of our sick friends . . . would have jumped at.'' Tracking the spread of cholera, Sue Halpern travels to Brazil to find the epidemic hasn't yet arrived; she finds no cause to celebrate, though, because indigent citizens are wasting away from intestinal parasites, chronic diarrhea, measles and pneumonia. Illustrated. (Jan.)