“All war literature, across the centuries, bears witness to certain eternal truths: the death and chaos encountered, minute by minute; the bonds of love and loyalty among soldiers; the bad dreams and worse anxieties that afflict many of those lucky enough to return home.” In an omnibus review for The New York Times Michiko Kakutani looks at the fiction and journalism being written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including recent Year in Reading alum and National Book Award winner Phil Klay‘s Redeployment and Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, “the one book that most fluently and kaleidoscopically captures both the micro and the macro of Iraq.” She also wonders, and attempts to explain, “why has there been no big, symphonic Iraq or Afghanistan novel?”
The New York Times interviews Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Tracy K. Smith, poet laureate of the United States for National Poetry Month. They discuss black history, bringing poetry to the central and rural parts of the country and to those who are incarcerated and why poetry isn’t as popular among adults. “Listening to music and lyrics and watching movies, I think, uses a lot of the same muscles we use in reading and experiencing poetry — and yet we somehow forget that we have those when it comes to sitting down with a book of poems.” It’s a delight, happy Saturday!
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
His new novel, Sunset Park, finds Paul Auster leaving behind the metafictional gamesmanship of his recent work for a look at our new Age of Austerity. This week, he talks to The L Magazine about the neighborhood from which it takes its title and inspiration…
Is it possible you have a binge reading disorder? It might seem ridiculous, but there’s mounting evidence that the Internet, which allows us to read far more than we ever have, is creating a world in which we constantly read but retain very little. Nikkitha Bakshani takes a look at the evidence for The Morning News.
“Yes, yes, it’s truer than true:
The great doctor made fun that was funny!
His creatures are shaggy and splendid and squishy,
In a cosmos uncertain but sunny.”