Barack Obama, Writer

Obama-Sunset

In response to a question posed to him by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, concerning which historical era he believes would best suit his rhetorical style, Barack Obama stated the following: “There is a big part of me that has a writer’s sensibility. And so that’s how I think. That’s how I pursue truth. That’s how I hope to communicate truth to people.”

I’ve read these four sentences many times since they were spoken by the president; not long after Goodwin’s Vanity Fair interview appeared online, in September, I copy-pasted the quote into Adobe Illustrator and printed out a letter-sized inspirational poster, which I hung on my office wall at the spot on which my eyes tend to focus whenever I’m having trouble keeping the writerly juices flowing. While intended to be a goad, my poster has, so far, been a reliable distraction.  Continue reading “Barack Obama, Writer”

A List of Especially Memorable Fiction and Nonfiction from 2016

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For the past few years I’ve been keeping a list of all the books I’ve read. This simple trick has resulted in a marked increase in the amount of reading I do. I group the book titles by month; when the date is getting to be in the mid- to late 20s and I check my list to find that I’ve only listed one or two books so far, which is often the case, the next several days will include harried bouts of late-night reading intended to prevent myself from later feeling ashamed when I would hope to be proudly perusing my list.

Highlights from this year’s list follow the jump. Continue reading “A List of Especially Memorable Fiction and Nonfiction from 2016”

Twenty-Eight Things I Wrote in the Margins of Brian Blanchfield’s PROXIES

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1. a trying-out … placing a variety of pressures on each essay’s titular subject, seeing what happens, where it leads … form is determined by the action of a restless mind

2. like Barthes, exploring middle ground between autobiography and criticism, imbuing collective experience of culture with intimacy, vulnerability, even if merely by virtue of subject selection … critical unpacking of shared/common behavior … housesitting becomes occasion for reflection on “commensalism” and the “citational,” etc.

3. certain propriety about syntax, tone … implied author and the “man of letters”

4. closed-book constraint is refreshing in part because there’s not that excessive referentiality that’s become so common among lyric essays
Continue reading “Twenty-Eight Things I Wrote in the Margins of Brian Blanchfield’s PROXIES”