by Jonathan Franzen
Blake is Carol Monaghan's boyfriend, whose arrival in Ramsey Hill gets everyone in the neighborhood all bent out of shape. If nothing else, this helps us get a glimpse of the increasing political polarization of American life over the past decade. When someone moves into a mostly liberal neighborhood, driving a truck with a bumper sticker reading "I'M WHITE AND I VOTE" (1.1.81), even sensible people like Patty Berglund can turn into a crazy people capable of slashing the tires on said truck. Joey, on the other hand, latches on to Blake, and it's in front of Blake's big-screen TV that he realizes how much more comfortable he is with conservatives than with liberals.