At 74, Clive James is a remarkably prolific poet, one who’s working hard to finish or publish three books in the next year alone. He spoke with Douglas Murray of The Spectator about his unflagging energy. “At the moment, I am in the slightly embarrassing position where I write poems saying I am about to die and I don’t,” he says. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on James’s book Cultural Amnesia.
“Salinger’s Holden Caulfield made a distinction between writers you would like to call on the phone and those you wouldn’t care to talk to at all. Teju Cole belongs to the former group.” Year in Reading alum Aleksandar Hemon interviews Teju Cole. If you can’t get enough of Cole, we interviewed him, too.
“The contradictions of [Madeleine] L’Engle’s life offer the best insights into the complicated acrobatics we perform in the modern world in order to satisfy the competing claims of love, family, success, and ambition….While the person that emerges could be tiresome, didactic, and just plain weird—why is everyone always breaking into a hymn at her house?—she could also be tender and offered real insights into the difficulties of growing up.” There’s a new biography of the A Wrinkle In Time author out, and The New Republic examines her life’s many complexities and, well, wrinkles.
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.”