Jonathan Franzen spent the first half of his life thinking about literature, now he plans to devote the other half to birds. It looks like Freedom is becoming reality as he puts on his bird-watching binoculars again to discuss the “appalling” songbird hunting in the Mediterranean for National Geographic.
For a man who’s retired, Philip Roth is still oddly present in the literary world. Ever since he announced his intention to quit writing, he’s made a stream of public appearances, including an awards ceremony at Yaddo one week after claiming he’d never appear on stage again. So what gives? In The Baffler, J.C. Hallman explains why writers can never really quit, in a piece that nicely complements our own take on literary retirement. FYI, Hallman has written for us.
“Born Guan Moye, he chose his pen name—“Don’t Talk”—to honor his mother’s caution against talking too much and in sardonic recognition of his failure to heed her warning. Yet I have been struck by his quiet and unassuming presence at literary conferences in Beijing, where he offered kind encouragement in private meetings but evinced a shy persona in public.” On the contradictions of last year’s Nobel laureate, Mo Yan.