While on the publicity tour for his latest book, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Michael Lewis stops by NPR‘s “Fresh Air” to talk Greece, the Euro, California’s “third world problems,” and the Occupy Wall Street protests. The author also gets a nice write-up in the latest New York Magazine, and his interview on last night’s “The Daily Show” ran so long, they had to put the full version online. (Start “The Daily Show”‘s clip at ~21:50 for the interview.)
“Over the course of our conversation, I’ve come to understand that he has not written (Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings) to provoke or to engender a self-serving sense of shock; he has written with a belief in the possibilities of liminal space and in the revelations that occur at the point of tension. The result is a book that jars, unequivocally, and that disquietingly brings to the surface the anguish of past and present America.” Stephen O’Connor’s poetic reimagining of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings has certainly raised some eyebrows. This interview with Melody Nixon at BOMB gives O’Connor a platform from which to explain his idea.
David Meltzer interviewed renowned Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the Poetry Foundation. At 93 years of age, Ferlinghetti still contends that “the real popular poets of America” are not the people writing verse for poetry collections, but rather the folk musicians and folksingers. “A lot of folksingers’ poems are greater than the printed poems!” Ferlinghetti explains. Evidently the American Academy of Arts and Letters agrees: Bob Dylan recently became the first rock musician ever inducted into its ranks.
“To use the lingo of their era, these novels are square. The protagonists have names like Jane and Barbara; they are not the misfits of which much teen literature is made but instead fundamentally good girls who long to fit in, and usually do … Viewed through the lens of contemporary culture, and especially contemporary teen lit, these girls should be boring and shallow. But Beverly Cleary’s supposedly ordinary girls are complex: resentful of their mothers one moment and sympathetic toward them the next, willing to do anything for one special boy but indignant when they’re taken for granted.” On the unexpectedly complex nature of Beverly Cleary’s boring protagonists with Ruth Graham at Slate.
“I can tell you that, as of today, I don’t feel any different about Mr Whitehead, or his review, or my response.” Richard Ford doubles down on his reaction to a negative 2001 review by fellow novelist Colson Whitehead. (Said response, in case you missed it, was to tell Whitehead ‘you’re a kid, you should grow up,’ and spit in his face.) We hope Whitehead is laughing at home with his Pulitzer Prize, recently awarded for last year’s literary juggernaut The Underground Railroad. And as our own Emily St. John Mandel reminds us, there are far more gracious ways to respond to criticism.