At the Poetry Foundation’s website, a list of twelve poets that captivated American presidents.
“I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.” Go and check out this fascinating profile of Ben Rhodes, the “Boy Wonder of the Obama Whitehouse,” who dropped out of his second year at NYU’s M.F.A. program after witnessing the attacks on September 11th to take up a life of international affairs and foreign policy. When asked about whom he would choose write the story of his work life, Rhodes picked novelist Don DeLillo: “He is the only person I can think of who has confronted these questions of, you know, the individual who finds himself negotiating both vast currents of history and a very specific kind of power dynamics. That’s his milieu. And that’s what it’s like to work in the U.S. foreign-policy apparatus in 2016.”
Few people know that Roger Ebert was an ardent Anglophile, so much so that in 1986 he wrote an obscure little book, The Perfect London Walk, in which the lifelong film critic laid out his preferred walking path through the city. Over at Slate, Katie Engelhart reviews the book, which apparently still functions as a guide to a decent stroll.
“How did a humble Canadian publisher—which got its start reprinting other companys’ books—become the name most associated with romance? It’s a long story, involving a peripatetic former fur trader and his opinionated socialite wife, a Procter-and-Gamble-trained Harvard MBA, some jilted Americans and a whole crowd of damned scribbling women.” From Pictorial comes the story of “How Harlequin Became the Most Famous Name in Romance.”
The more you know! In Victorian times, sitting for a photograph could last hours due to primitive camera technology and the need for long, long exposures. This, predictably, didn’t jibe with kids, and so parents had to adopt an ingenious workaround: disguising themselves in the picture so they could physically restrain the youngsters. (Don’t miss Part 2, either.)
In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)