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Obama's Summer Novel Includes Dreary Passage About Phoenix

An observant reader passed this one along to us:

The award-winning novel, Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill, famously being read this summer by President Obama, contains a rather downbeat assessment of downtown Phoenix:

On our way out we passed through downtown Phoenix. It was seemingly an uninhabited place given over to multilevel garages that, with their stacked lateral voids, almost duplicated the office blocks and their bands of tinted glass.

The general vacancy was relieved by the slow and for some reason distinctly sinister movement of automobiles from street to street, as if these machines' careful, orderly roaming was a charade whose purpose was to obscure the fact that the city had been forsake; and all the while the radio ceaselessly reported crashes and emergencies in the streets around us. It was one of those occasions on which the disunion between one's interior and external states reaches almost absolute proportions, and even as I smiled and nodded and knocked my can of Bud Light against another's, I had fallen into the most horrible misery. I escaped into a sleep.

Obama comes here so often, we're pretty sure he has a fonder recollection of the Valley.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.