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.
Get Your War On creator and How to Sharpen Pencils author David Rees was recently interviewed about his new show on the National Geographic channel. The premise behind the new venture is simple: “anything in the world that seems like there’s nothing to learn about, that’s what we want to learn about.”
Freudians know that Eros and Thanatos are opposites in the human psyche. The former, the love instinct, pushes us to survive, while the latter, the death instinct, pushes us to destruction. In an essay for Bookslut, Jelena Markovic explores the importance of Thanatos in daily life, using as an example a man she knew with an “instinct for nonexistence.”
“It all adds up to a fascinating portrait-of-the-artist-on-the-make in the booming 1950s. And it makes you wish the stories were better.” Year-in-Reading alum Jess Walter reviews a new (911-page) collection of stories by Kurt Vonnegut. See also: “2 B R 0 2 B”, a “lost” Vonnegut story that first appeared in the sci-fi journal Worlds of If in January 1962.