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Don DeLillo

In a recent interview published in The Guardian, Xan Brooks talks to American author and playwright Don DeLillo about the contemporary political landscape in America:

“‘Oh, I think whatever’s going on now seems unique […] ‘The question is whether the situation is terminal. I’m very reluctant to talk about Trump, simply because everybody else is. We’re deluged with information about Trump on every level – as a man, as a politician. But what’s significant to me is that all of his enormous mistakes and misstatements disappear within 24 hours. The national memory lasts 48 hours, at best. And there’s always something else coming at us down the pipeline. You can’t separate it all out. You get lost in the deluge.’

So what’s the prognosis? DeLillo, God help us, is as discombobulated as anyone. ‘It’s hard to know. I think it would take a great shift of events for the country to restore its balance, to restore its consciousness, and to think about things the way we did during the Obama administration.’ He sighs. ‘Right now, I’m not sure the situation is recoverable.'”

The Guardian

“After two years of careful reading, moving backwards through time, Robert McCrum has concluded his selection of the 100 greatest nonfiction books. Take a quick look at five centuries of great writing.” — The Guardian

Includes: Former President of the United States, Barack ObamaBetty FriedanEdward SaidGeorge OrwellJames BaldwinJoan DidionMichael HerrNaomi KleinOliver SacksSusan SontagVirginia Woolf, and many more.

From Flavorwire: “The press whirlwind for Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad which is being touted as his masterpiece, continues unabated. And the author is remarkably self-aware and smart about both the topical nature of his book in a moment of civil rights protest like we haven’t seen decade in an interview with New York Magazine‘s Boris Kachka. It’s fascinating to watch a writer having a big moment reflect on that moment with (at least what appears to be) genuine equanimity and understanding.

Whitehead talked about the racial politics of the moment, writing a “big serious novel,” and maturing as a person and writer.” [Read More]

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It’s a little known fact that bebop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie actually ran for president of the United States back in 1964:

“What began as one of Dizzy’s famous practical jokes, and a way to raise money for CORE (Congress for Racial Equality) and other civil rights organizations became something more, a way for Dizzy’s fans to imagine an alternative to the “millionaire’s-only” club represented by Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater.”

Open Culture

The White House, henceforth to be known as the ‘Blues House’ would comprise the following cabinet: (more…)

In an historical first, the President of the United States sits down to interview an American woman writer about her life and work

From The New York Review of Books:

The President: Well, as you know—I’ve told you this—I love your books. Some listeners may not have read your work before, which is good, because hopefully they’ll go out and buy your books after this conversation.

marilynne-robinson-gilead
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (1980)

I first picked up Gilead, one of your most wonderful books, here in Iowa. Because I was campaigning at the time, and there’s a lot of downtime when you’re driving between towns and when you get home late from campaigning. And you and I, therefore, have an Iowa connection, because Gilead is actually set here in Iowa.

And I’ve told you this—one of my favorite characters in fiction is a pastor in Gilead, Iowa, named John Ames, who is gracious and courtly and a little bit confused about how to reconcile his faith with all the various travails that his family goes through. And I was just—I just fell in love with the character, fell in love with the book, and then you and I had a chance to meet when you got a fancy award at the White House. And then we had dinner and our conversations continued ever since.

So anyway, that’s enough context. You just have completed a series of essays that are not fiction, and I had a chance to read one of them about fear and the role that fear may be playing in our politics and our democracy and our culture.* And you looked at it through the prism of Christianity and sort of the Protestant traditions that helped shape us, so I thought maybe that would be a good place to start. (more…)