Found a new favorite way home: through the school of religion (interdenominational!). I’d never been on the other side of Arch before and it’s quite lovely.

Last week I read Where Soldiers Fear to Tread, which was pretty horrifying. It’s about the politics of humanitarian aid and tells the story of the author’s period of service in Somalia. Then I read the first third of Lincoln, historical fiction, dog-eared on Fritz’s communal living-room bookshelf, and when that proved curious but slightly unsatisfying (I have no patience for terribly-written women) I went for Fritz’s borrowed Team of Rivals, naturally. I’m only 128 of 757 pages into that but it’s fascinating. Did you know Lincoln was hella emo?

To be sure, Lincoln was a melancholy man. “His melancholy dript from him as he walked,” said his law partner, William Herndon, an observation echoed by dozens of others. “No element of Mr. Lincoln’s character was so marked, obvious and ingrained as his mysterious and profound melancholy,” recalled Henry Whitney. “This melancholy was stamped on him while in the period of his gestation. It was part of his nature and could no more be shaken off than he could part with his brains.”


He was really depressed for one winter in 1840 when everything in his love life went wrong, and his best friend was leaving town, and Illinois was in a recession and he was blamed for all these public works projects that cost way too much money (expanding canals and stuff). “According to Speed, ‘Lincoln went Crazy–had to remove razors from his room–take away all Knives and other such dangerous things–&c–it was terrible.'” =( Other than that, though, the author of this book makes the case that throughout his life he probably didn’t suffer from chronic depression like other biographers have suggested–instead, he was just melancholy. Apparently he was also really hilarious and an amazing storyteller.

There’s a really cool recent interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin on the Amazon page for Team of Rivals, recorded days before the Obama inauguration. They talk about Lincoln, Obama, Clinton… it is really cool.

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