In an interview with the Guardian about Canada, Richard Ford talks about America: “I never had much conceptual idea of Canada being better. But whenever I go there, I feel this fierce sense of American exigence just relent. America beats on you so hard the whole time.” Also see: Michael Bourne’s review of the novel.
Recommended Reading: This jarring, surreal "amalgamation of three different pieces" on Hannah Arendt by Bobbi Lurie over at 3:AM Magazine. Arendt, herself a political theorist, would likely have appreciated this piece from The Millions on the life and afterlife of literary theory.
Let the Great World Spin author (and one of today's YiR2011 writers!) Colum McCann had some inspiring words for this year's crop of Boston College freshmen. "There’s a degraded discourse around the notion of optimism these days that says there is something soft about being an optimist—something wrong," he said. "It claims that optimism has no edge, as if it’s less than complete, less than the full deck of knowledge. The optimist is cartooned into the corner with an idiotic grin. I submit to you that none of that is true."
In a 6,000 word essay for The Point, founding editor Jon Baskin wades into the personal and professional psychodrama of the Franzen-Wallace friendship. Beneath the public surface, finds deep questions about the "novel of the self," the "novel of society," and the life worth living.
Working off of some investigative work done by Ronald Hamilton – a writer who recently worked as a bookbinder at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library – Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer may have finally determined the cause of Christopher McCandless’s death in the Alaskan wilderness.
Remember the Rudyard Kipling poem where he says the British government should be scalped? We don't either. However, a forthcoming book of lost Kipling poems, 100 Poems: Old and New, shows his anti-establishment side. An excerpt from the aforementioned poem, "Laudatores Actoris Empti:" "Come, let us lightly scalp the brood / Of 'educated middle classes' / Who, much perplexed with 'views' and 'goals' / Now govern London – and our souls”
Could James Baldwin be America’s greatest essayist? Ta-Nehisi Coates believes so -- at The Atlantic, he argues that The Fire Next Time shows Baldwin committing “amazing acts of intellectual and emotional courage.” (Related: Buzz Poole paid tribute to Baldwin back in 2008.)