4th of July

I hear this is a big deal over in the US of A. Given that many of my readers are from there and that I myself am now also a citizen of your fine country—dual nationalities for the win!—I thought I should blog in a USian way or about the USA on your day of celebrating being a nation.1

First I thought why don’t I tell you everything I think is wrong with that mighty nation. But given that I haven’t even been USian for a whole year it seems a bit premature. It’s all very well for me to go off on the dread wrongnesses of Australia2 as I have been Australian for quite some time. But as a mere eight-month old USian I shall keep it positive for at least another year.

So instead I will share with you some of what I love about the USA. Yes, folks, there are many good things about the United States of America.

The music. Seriously, people, this is the country that produced Bessie Smith, Sophie Tucker, Billie Holliday, Blossom Dearie, Big Mama Thornton, Aaron Copland, Kanye, George Gershwin, Gangstagrass, Missy Elliot, Salt’n’Pepa, Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Una Mae Carlisle, Dixie Chicks, Bix Beiderbeck, Jean Grae, Chuck Brown, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan . . .3

Oh, good grief. There are too many amazing musicians across too many genres! It’s completely impossible to even list 0.01% of my favourites. I mean I’m looking at that list and thinking what about Lucinda Williams? What about Janelle Monae? Gillian Welch? Mahalia Jackson? Johnny Cash? How could I have forgotten them?! What is wrong with me?

You know, even if the USA had given nothing else to the rest of the world it’s music is more than enough. But then there’s all the amazing literature. Geniuses like Shirley Jackson, Octavia Butler, Flannery O’Conner, Zora Neale Hurston, Dawn Powell, James Baldwin, Patricia Highsmith and many, many others. I’m only listing dead writers. That way my genius writer friends won’t be insulted when I leave them off the list. Interestingly almost all my favourite US genre writers are still alive. Excellent, eh?

Then there’s all the wonderful movies. I am an obsessive devotee of Hollywood movies of the thirties and forties. Way too many to list. And then in the last decade or so there’s been an explosion of extraordinary television for which I am insanely grateful. *hugs The Wire to chest*

Of course none of this art happens in a vacuum. The USA is a hungry beast absorbing cultural influences from all over the world. Personally, I think that’s how the best art happens. Though it’s a long continuum and at one end is US artists going to, say, Brazil, and ripping off artists there and taking it back and selling it in the USA and not even crediting the source except with generalised mumbling such as: “You know, Brazil, is, like, so inspiring.”

What never stops amazing me about the USA is how big it is. How almost everything you can say about that country—good or bad—is true. They have the worst and best health care.4 Ditto food. Ditto music. Ditto, well, pretty much everything.

But I guess the main thing I love about the USA is New York City, which has given me so many opportunities and wonderful friendships and, er, a husband, and completely changed my life. Kisses and hugs to you, NYC! Never change!5

  1. It is still the fourth of July there even though we Australians have already moved on to the fifth of July. []
  2. Oh, I’m just kidding. We Aussies know that Australia is perfect in every way and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Don’t say “detention centres” or “asylum seeker deaths at sea” or “deaths in custody.” Shush! []
  3. You’ll let me know, won’t you, if one of them turns out to actually be Canadian? []
  4. And that best in the world health care can easily be yours. All you have to do is be really rich or have an amazing job with amazing health insurance. Simple! []
  5. Well, actually, NYC, I’d kind of like you to quit it with the stop-and-frisk program and it would be awesome if you created more low-income housing in Manhattan so it doesn’t totally turn into a theme park for the rich and if you . . . *cough* Positive. I’m keeping things positive. []


  1. Rebecca Leach on #

    I’m so happy that you’re blogging again! Yay! Happy 4th of July! And yay for Team Human being out! Yays and exclamation points all around!

  2. Justine on #

    Rebecca: Thank you for the !!!!!s

  3. WrittenEmber on #

    Happy 4th!

    Also, (and this is unrelated, but) I just read a book called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. Immediately thereafter (and I do mean immediately, as in on the same day) I started reading Liar. When I came to the end of Liar and was reading the acknowledgments, because I always read the acknowledgments, I came across a familiar name. Rebecca Skloot! And I just thought that was the craziest thing, that I would happen to read her book and yours back-to-back, completely by chance.

    Not that it’s a huge deal or anything. But I thought it was cool, and wanted to share.

    Also, I know what really happens in Liar. I know the TRUTH. The truth is thus: it’s all a lie. Somebody made up this “Micah” girl, and then made up a life for her, and threw wrenches in it, and then decided to mess with people’s heads whilst telling them about it.


  4. WrittenEmber on #

    P.S. I don’t have to tell anyone here that they should read Liar, because everyone should already know that. (If not, let me be the one to say: read it!) But everyone should also read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, because it is an amazing book, about many amazing people and amazing things. Just so everyone knows.

  5. Justine on #

    WrittenEmber: Thanks for your kind words about Liar. If you’re interested the thread of people’s theories about Liar is over here.

    Rebecca Skloot is, indeed, a marvellous writer. And she very kindly helped me with some of my Liar research.

  6. Doret on #

    The other day I finished a novel called Miss Me When I’m Gone by Arsenault. It was so good, and centered around classic country singers Tammy Wynette,Loretta Lynn (Who doesn’t love Coal Miners Daughter) and Dolly Parton.

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