Articles by Jedediah Purdy


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Fragments, Shored

The soils of the North Carolina Piedmont, where I live, are some of the oldest in the world. They were tuckered well before tobacco exhausted them, back when these low slopes and soggy bottoms were home to ginseng and giant sloths. (A sharp-eyed walker will still find occasional ginseng.) I just learned this fact, and…

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17 Endangered Species That Are Also Bands

1: Alabama Heelsplitter This richly colored Gulf mussel, with a shell like polished leather in a college library, plays bluegrass with a strain of Lynyrd Skynyrd.   2:Leadbeater’s Possum The official “faunal emblem” of the Australian state of Victoria, this native of Australia’s central highlands opens for Alabama Heelsplitter and adopts a wry, collegiate irony…

A Terrible Beauty

I spent a lot of the Sunday afternoon before Valentine’s Day at the Smithsonian exhibit (headed for the Met) on  “The Civil War and American Art.”  Although it is staged as part of the 150-year Civil War anniversary, the exhibit’s burning skies, darkened landscapes, and martial corpses are, ironically, just as apt for this coming Sunday’s march on…