Last summer, I taught a class on narrative nonfiction. About halfway through, I asked if anyone knew why Barack Obama had been elected. “Because he’s a man.” “Because George Bush was so bad.” Good answers, but not right, in my opinion. It was, I think, because he understood the power of narrative. It was because he is, before a politician, a writer. I have thought this since I first heard him speak: Here was someone who really understood the power of words and stories to move us. In a recent story in GQ, by Robert Draper unpacks this side of the President’s life, and leaves me only more convinced that Barack Obama is a writer first, and all else second.
Archive for November, 2009
For many years now, the northern edge of the Mediterranean has been besieged by Anglophones searching for the good life. First Peter Mayle settled in Provence. Then Tim Parks met his neighbors in Verona. Frances Mayes looked up in the sky near Florence. And Chris Stewart ran over some fruit in Spain. The list goes on. As Matthew Kneale recently pointed out in the Financial Times, the tradition of what he calls “idyll memoirs” may go back even further.
Yet it is this most recent spate of blockbusters that has sent a frenzy of discontented Americans and Brits to sunnier climes. Now, perhaps mercifully, that era is coming to an end. With the publication of Ferenc Máté‘s new book, The Wisdom of Tuscany: Simplicity, Security & the Good Life—Making the Tuscan Lifestyle Your Own, it’s all but official. The idyll is over.”
I was talking to a friend about Star Trek, and Rolf Potts’ series on World Hum, when he mentioned an obscure Turkish remake of the original series. Well thank God for Youtube, because a quick search brought it right up. Great stuff:
For those of us who don’t want to be online all the time, books are the perfect technology. For places where being online isn’t always an option, they’re not bad either. I just did a story for The Africa Report about the state of publishing on the continent, which of course is an industry with its challenges. But there is a crop of new, young, smart publishers who are putting out amazing work, places like Kwani?, Story Moja, Langaa, Cassava Republic and others. They are the ones who know what publishers have always known: that, as important as dollars and naira and shillings are, we put books out into the world for more than that.