Orhan Pamuk's novel, Snow (set in Turkish provincial town).
Also, Joseph Brodsky's essay, Flight from Byzantium. (My birthday is 5/29 - "Black Wednesday" - day Constantinople fell in 1453. My daughter Phoebe was born on 5/11 - day the city was founded by Constantine.)
Also, interesting New Yorker essay (this week's) by Nicholas Lehmann, on Bush.
Bush seems a little like a Roman emperor: he imprints his (Texan-plutocrat-quirky) personality on the world. The choice is not simply pro or con, elephant or donkey. I'm trying to think about him as if I were Marvell thinking about Cromwell, or Virgil about Caesar Augustus.
Civilization & Nature run deeper than the polarities harped upon by our 2 political parties. Stand back & take a deep breath.
I'm deep Minnesota, deep old New England.