“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.”
Books by Friends, a semi-regular feature at The Atlantic, sees writer James Fallows recommend the works of authors he knows. This week, he praises a book on the history of flight, a prediction for the economy and a jeremiad on American politics by Gary Hart. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on Fallows and American decline.
Yes, “books to read this summer” lists are proliferating on the internet to a staggering degree — our own “Summer Reading List For Wretched Assholes” notwithstanding. However, few lists address the importance of a single season quite like this one by Carrie Mullins at Electric Literature, which takes a look at 11 novels that take place during one summer.
New out this week is Gryphon, Charles Baxter’s new collection of stories. Joseph McElroy also has a new collection of stories out, Night Soul. The latest McSweeney’s (featuring that fragment from an abandoned novel by Michael Chabon) is now available, and new in paperback is Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America. Many more new books to look forward to, of course, in our massive preview published last week.