“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.”
Patrick Somerville’s latest novel, This Bright River, was recently reviewed in The New York Times by Janet Maslin, who found the book to be, among other things, “soggy.” Unfortunately, some of her critique was based on a mistaken reading of Somerville’s work. I’ll let Patrick take it from here.
Jane Campion‘s Bright Star was released in theaters today. Read the New York Times‘ favorable review and watch a clip of Campion’s take on the romance between Romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). According to papers on both coasts, it is Cornish who shines brightest: the NYT applauds her “mesmerizing vitality and heart-stopping grace.” You may recognize Whishaw as the demented/gifted perfumier Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Tom Tykwer‘s adaptation of Patrick Suskind‘s 2001 novel Perfume: The Story of a Murder.
“The literature by Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans is out there for anyone who knows how to use Google. But so many here and abroad would rather not know, or when a new Vietnamese author is published, would prefer to say, ‘At last! A voice for the Vietnamese!’ In fact, there are so many voices, for the Vietnamese people are very loud.” Pulitzer Prize winner and Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer) writes in The New York Times about the diversity of Vietnamese writing, too often ignored in favor of war narratives and the voices of American veterans. (For an incredible syllabus of books to fill in the gaps, see the middle of his piece.)
During the production of his classic film, Man of Aran, Robert Flaherty also directed an 11-minute short entitled Oidhche Sheanchais (“A Night of Storytelling”). It’s widely considered to be the first film recorded in the Irish language. For years, all extant copies were believed to be lost in a fire, but recently, researchers at Harvard’s Houghton Library rediscovered a nitrate print of the film.