As the publication date nears for Robert Caro’s latest Lyndon Johnson installment, The Passage of Power, it’s a good idea to brush up on your history of Caro’s career. Enter Charles McGrath and his great portrait of one of the most prolific biographers of all time.
"In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, Flann O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence.’ One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.” (Related: our own Mark O’Connell on the humor in O’Brien’s work.)
"The American poem was not in a grave at that time; not by any measure. There was achievement, experiment, excitement. But there was also confinement. It could be felt in the air, in an ethos of conditional acceptance. A young woman poet was not yet a familiar sight. When Auden remarked about [Adrienne] Rich’s poems, after choosing her as a Yale Younger Poet, that they were 'neatly and modestly dressed,' it sounded more like a counsel for the nursery than acclaim for a new writer.” At The New Republic, Eavan Boland reflects on the legacy of the poet, whose posthumous collection, Later Poems, came out last week.