Begin Again: On Endings in Nonfiction by E. V. De Cleyre [Ploughshares.org]
Talking, or writing, about endings is hard—whether it’s the end of a marriage, the end of a life, or the end of a book (lest one spoil the conclusion). Life rarely offers sudden and definitive endings or epiphanic conclusions. Rather, events leading up to the end seem to be a slow unfolding, occasionally bleeding into a new beginning. For writers of nonfiction, dealing with actual occurrences often means there is no definitive end, and even if there were (such as a death), there comes the aftermath—the grief, the coping, the rebuilding.
Born Red is a long profile of Xi Jinping, President of China, by Evan Osnos of The New Yorker. Osnos explains the character and policies of China's current leader through his biography. He was privileged son of a revolutionary leader. After the father fell from grace, the son endured a troubled decade. His father was invited back into the fold, and Xi rose through the ranks all the way to the top. Xi is considered the leader of the informal princeling faction of the Chinese Communist Party. He has put a focus on combating corruption, which had gone out of control in the last couple of decades, and stifling dissent. Recent months have seen tumultuous stock markets and a large army parade. Since coming to power, a personality cult has been promoted by the state. Jeffrey Wasserstrom makes a comparison between the Chinese President and the Pope.
The files of the God of Gamblers case can be read as a string of accidents, good and bad: Siu’s run at the baccarat table; Wong’s luck to be assigned an assassin with a conscience; Adelson’s misfortune that reporters noticed an obscure murder plot involving his casino. But the tale, viewed another way, depends as little on luck as a casino does. It is, rather, about the fierce collision of self-interests. If Las Vegas is a burlesque of America—the “ethos of our time run amok,” as Hal Rothman, the historian, put it—then Macau is a caricature of China’s boom, its opportunities and rackets, its erratic sorting of winners and losers.Evan Osnos on a real-life "God of Gamblers" and the rise of Macau, The New Yorker