Bleak House

Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books:

ScreenHunter_362 Oct. 17 18.10Some of us notice them, while others don’t seem to, even though there are 46.5 million of them according to the latest census and they are everywhere if one cares to look. A tall man in his late fifties, whose portrait might have once hung over the boss’s desk in some company office, packing grocery bags in a supermarket with grim efficiency; a meek-looking old couple in a drug store waiting their turn at the cash register with a bottle of generic ibuprofen and a box of tissues, who, upon learning the price for each put the tissues aside and pay with small change for the painkiller; a handsome, middle-aged father, unshaven and looking unkempt, waiting with his small son for a school bus outside a modest home in the suburbs; the tired and resigned look of fast food workers and store clerks in a mall, some of them young, but many of them middle-aged and even older, most of them being paid minimum wage for their work and needing an additional job, food stamps, or some other form of government assistance to support their families; a soup kitchen in New York with people who could be one’s relatives waiting patiently in line.

Anyone who averts his eyes from the hopeless lives many of our fellow citizens lead and tells himself and others that these men and women only have themselves to blame, is either a fool or a soulless bastard.

More here.