In her new poetry collection, Oculus, Sally Wen Mao explores various subjects from Anna May Wong to Wong Kar-wai to personhood to objecthood. Anne A. Cheng interviews Mao for Bomb Magazine, and they discuss how these topics merge in her confessional poems. Sally Wen Mao discusses art’s role in redeeming history and reimagining “lost moments, the feelings never expressed, the secrets never surfaced,” Mao writes. “I think that it’s possible for art to reckon with and mourn this loss even as it imagines or recovers what has been lost. I think it’s possible to simultaneously arrive at both.”
At this point, we’re all familiar with Cheryl Strayed’s transformative solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that she wrote about in Wild. Yet at Condé Nast Traveler, she discusses how a recent family vacation to Laos reawakened her passion for travel. “Here we were on a sacred hill so far off from the place from which we had come, and so abundantly thankful for it. Perhaps the power of that very gratitude is the reason I travel.”
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older? / Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long,” crooned Brian Wilson in The Beach Boys’ 1966 hit “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” The song went on to become the title of Wilson’s autobiography. Now, over half a century later, the crew is finally older, and fans hoping for a reunion won’t have to “wait so long” because the band’s officially announced an upcoming 50th anniversary tour.
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an “unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
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.