As the global pandemic relocates all communication to phone screens, computer lenses, or—if you’re lucky—shouting from six feet apart, the art of the in-person conversation has started to feel nostalgic. Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, the 1995 film starring Julie Delpy and Austin native Ethan Hawke, is 105 minutes of pure, unalloyed chatter. The first installment of the Before trilogy, Before Sunrise tells the story of Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Delpy), virtual strangers who spend the night walking and talking in Vienna after they meet by happenstance on the train. Without relying on physical contact, the two must connect solely through the tango of their conversations, fused with the electricity of a personal connection that no Zoom call can approximate.
—Isaac Engelberg, editorial intern
Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World
Chinese president Deng Xiaoping’s 1979 trip to America is well remembered as a historic turning point in U.S.-China relations. But what’s often forgotten about this trip is that Deng made a crucial but surprising stop on his nine-day tour: a Texas rodeo. Michael Schulman recalls this in his newly published book Superpower Interrupted: The Chinese History of the World. He resurfaces this often forgotten moment in history, recounting how Deng went to Washington to establish diplomacy with America, but traveled to Texas to immerse himself in America’s soul. Deng showed up to the rodeo in Simonton in a ten-gallon hat—a moment that symbolized a sweeping welcome of Western culture. Though Chinese-American relations have shifted since, I found that this section in Schulman’s book serves as a much-needed reminder in our current tumultuous times of a moment when cultures and nations once peacefully (albeit briefly) merged—even if just for Deng Xiaoping’s first rodeo.
—Elena DeBre, editorial intern