In December Granta published an excerpt from the book I'm working on GROWING UP MODERN. In the book I look at the values inherent in places from the modernist suburb where I grew up to where I live now in the Catskill Mountains. I'm trying to uncover civic values, what holds us together, the bigger things and ideas that bind us and how they come to be represented. Here in "The Fairytale," I'm searching for what was driving the dream of modernism. I grew up thinking my parents' Swedish flatware could change the world. Granted I was a kid wiht a skewed perspective on the adult world, but I go back to try and understand how such beliefs came to adhere to things. I am in part nostalgic for that time, and for the idea that the world is improvable and that things-- even as simply as cutlery--could have some power for change. So I return home as my mother is dying and ask all the people my parents' age who are still left in the community what modernism meant to them and why.
I go looking for their progressive ethos and find, yes, co-ops and collectives and left-leaning values, but behind the walls of glass I also find the Cold War, spies and the CIA, and am left with questions about my father and his values. You can read more on Granta's site here: