I met Joe Wood in 1992, after mutual friends suggested that I might ask him to write for Dissent. I remember liking him immediately. He was an interesting mix: he was blunt, almost fierce, in his opinions, yet in his manner he struck me as one of the gentlest people I’d ever met.
We got into the habit of having dinner two or three times a year. It was always fun to talk with him; you could count on him to put the ball in play, conversationally. He almost always had some theme, some question he was working out in his mind—the many meanings of the idea of family; the many ways in which the idea of race can give us a distorted picture of ourselves. You had the impression that if you called him at any hour of the day, you would find him thinking about some subtle theoretical problem....
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