Quickly: Presidential Authors, Holocaust Memoirs, Literary Prizes, Prophet Centers
Posted by: Keir Graff
In an interview with Sean Hannity, he explained that he had “a few scores to settle,” and hoped the book could top off his legacy.
But the consensus seems to be that the best writer to occupy the White House in modern times–well, he’ll be occupying the White House shortly. Jonathan Raban rounds up the best presidential writers, scrutinizing one Mr. Obama in particular (“All the Presidents’ Literature,” Wall Street Journal):
It’s been so long since a talented writer last occupied the White House; no wonder, then, that American writers have been among the most prominent of all the demographic groups claiming a piece of Barack Obama for themselves. In the last year, Obama’s 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father” (though not his later, more conventional campaign book, “The Audacity of Hope”) has been discovered by the literary profession as if it were the Comstock Lode: He wrote it himself! Every sentence has its own graceful cadence! He could as easily be a novelist as a politician!
Ben Greenman lets Oprah know about an exciting new memoir (“My Holocaust Memoir,” New Yorker):
I was born in Chicago in 1969. Shortly afterward, in 1941, my entire family was rounded up by the authorities and sent to the Theresienstadt camp, along with tens of thousands of other Jews, who hailed principally from Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Germany.
Tom Chatfield offers a defense of literary prizes (“The art of prize-fighting,” Prospect):
Prizes are an attempt to mould, and to pre-empt, posterity. Their answers rarely satisfy; they seem, sometimes, to possess an astonishing capacity for ignoring talent. Yet they occupy an increasingly crucial, and volatile, position amid those imperfect processes by which writing is turned into literature.
A thoughtful piece, and so long that I would like to offer my defense of lengthy essays defending literary prizes.
Stephanie Simon looks at the many different repackagings of the Bible (“Prophet Sharing: The Good Book Is the Best Seller,” Wall Street Journal):
There are gross-out Bibles for boys, which dwell on scenes of mayhem, and glossy teen-magazine-style Bibles for girls, complete with beauty tips. One of the latest entries, Bible Illuminated, offers an art-house take on the New Testament, juxtaposing the gospel with glossy photos of Angelina Jolie, Al Gore and anonymous victims of Hurricane Katrina.
I’ve been meaning to write about Bible Illuminated, which is sitting on my desk, for weeks. But I actually can’t think of much to say about it except that it looks like a glamour magazine for goths. Give me a Gideon’s, any day.