For The New Yorker, Jill Lepore brings a critical eye to the memoirs of 2020’s Democratic presidential candidates, comparing the lyricism and romance of Pete Buttigieg’s Shortest Way Home to the force and anger of Elizabeth Warren’s This Fight Is Our Fight to the less inspired liberal-cum-Republican coming-of-age narrative in Ronald Reagan’s Where’s the Rest of Me? “Most of the books,” Lepore notes, “are not great books, and some of these people just don’t seem like good people. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make good Presidents, I guess, but it raises a question: Why do they write this stuff?” What are political autobiographies really for?
This week has been full of news about unorthodox children’s book authors. First, there was Keith Richards’s picture book, and now an Australian academic claims that Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung wrote children’s books, too. “I was astounded that children’s books (purportedly) written by Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung were vastly more readable than one would expect from any political leader in the democratic west, still less a severe authoritarian,” doctoral student Christopher Richardson said.
When Octavia Butler died in 2006, she left behind unseen short stories. Butler’s agent has discovered two unpublished stories in the author’s papers. “A Necessary Being” features a lonely alien leader, and “Childminder” is about mentoring telepaths. The two stories will be published this summer in the collection Unexpected Stories.