Reading matter of rabid Bush moron:
Dante, Poet of the Desert, by Giuseppe Mazzotta. I come back to this author's books every few years, one of my favorites. Much about rhetoric & history & theology & what Dante does with them.
Perhaps the red/blue state phenomenon, the right/left, the rep/dem drama, is the result of the difference between rhetoric (the intellectuals) and history (the business class). David Brooks, the middle-of-my-road-anyway pundit for NY Times, wrote an op-ed along these lines a while back.
In the first half of Stubborn Grew, the flow of actual (local) history is narrated by a fictional character (actually, a ghost). In the 2nd half, the obverse is the case. The fictionalized (failed) process of writing an epic/history poem is framed by, inset within, the "documentary"/confessional image of an actual individual (the author).