Elena Ferrante: ‘Dreaming of a return to the past is a denial of youth’5 days ago
I love young people who fight to give their time a new form and demand a better life for the entire human race
I very much like recognising myself in my daughters and, at the same time, feeling that they do their utmost to be different from me. Even when this attitude makes me angry, it seems positive. Not a day goes by when they don’t tell me, more or less subtly, that I belong to the past. Not a day goes by when they don’t point out that what I say is banal and out of touch with the present, which is their area of expertise. Not a day goes by when they don’t find a way to pit their intelligence against mine, and the aim is always the same: to let me know that I should keep quiet. Not to mention that whenever I have trouble with the computer or some other electronic device, they intervene to remind me that I am of the era of the fountain pen and the pay phone.
I look at them and, sometimes with satisfaction, sometimes with alarm, see myself in their bodies, in their tone of voice. Bits of me appear for a few seconds, and I barely have time to recognise them, as when, in a page you’ve just written, you see flashes of the literary tradition behind you. They naturally don’t notice, and that’s good. I hope they have as much time as possible to declare themselves miraculously new and set about teaching me a thing or two. I, too, felt different from my mother and pushed out her generation to make room for mine. The cruelty of the latest arrivals, when they feel they’re the first to come into the world, is necessary.
I greatly fear the generations who don’t proudly leave their parents behind. But I’m also frightened by those who, at 20, leave their parents behind to embrace the mores of grandparents and great-grandparents. I don’t understand the young people who would replace the world of today with a golden age when everyone knew their place, that is, in an order based on sexist and racist hierarchies. Sometimes, especially when they declare themselves fascists, they don’t even seem like young people, and I tend to treat them even more harshly than the old people who inspired them. Dreaming of a return to the past is a denial of youth, and it grieves me to discover that young women, too, dream those dreams.
I love young people who fight to give their time a new form and demand a better life for the entire human race. I hope my daughters stay that way for a long time. Then – it’s in the natural order of things – as they get older they’ll find me within themselves, discovering physical details, flashes of personality, thoughts, and will learn to welcome me, make room for me. As happened with my mother and me, they’ll discover that, even admitting they’re partly me, they’ll continue to be themselves. In fact they’ll be themselves more fully, with greater autonomy.
• Translated by Ann Goldstein
Read more: www.theguardian.com
The literary life of Michiko Kakutani: the book critic’s best conflicts and reviews11 days ago
The New York Times writer is stepping down from her role, leaving behind a remarkable career characterized by razor-sharp reviews and intra-literary rows
Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times adored chief volume critic, announced she was stepping down from her post on Thursday after 38 years, marking the end of a career that inspired both appreciation and anxiety in the hearts of the writers whose books she reviewed.
Kakutani was Americas most powerful literary critic, a person who has, with the stroke of a pen, wielded immense influence over the careers of both budding and established novelists. Over the course of her tenure at the Times, Kakutani was remarkably guarded, making few appearances in public and allowing her reviews to speak for themselves. In honor of a critic so widely celebrated the scribe behind pieces that launched the careers of David Foster-Wallace, George Saunders and Zadie Smith and indignation quite a few others here are her best feuds and reviews, broken down.
Kakutani v Franzen
Part of what so attracted readers to Kakutanis work was her constant objectivity, a quality that was on display in her ability to write admiringly of an author and then, if underwhelmed by a later release, roast them over a fire. Kakutani praised Jonathan Franzens novel The Corrections as a devastating family portrait and a harrowing portrait of America in the late 1990 s, but was less intrigued by his 2006 memoir The Discomfort Zone, questioning why anyone said he wished to pages and pages about this unhappy relationship or the self-important and self-promoting contents of Mr Franzens mind. The novelist fired back in an interview with the Guardian, calling Kakutani tone-deaf and humorless. Then, two years later, at a discussion with James Wood at Harvard, he upped the bet by referring to the critic as the stupidest person in New York City.
Kakutani v Mailer
Kakutani reviewed Norman Mailers 2006 novel The Gospel According to the Sun, a first-person autobiographical retelling of the Bible from the perspective of Jesus himself. She called it a silly, self-important and at times inadvertently comical volume that reads like a combination of Godspell, Nikos Kazantzakis Last Temptation of Christ and one of those new, dumbed-down Bible translations; Mailer, never one to shy away from a writerly bicker, called Kakutani a one-woman kamikaze in an interview with Rolling Stone. He then indicated the Times merely retains Kakutani because shes a woman of Asian descent: She disdains white male writers, and Im her number-one favorite target, he said. But the Times editors cant fire her. Theyre frightened of her. With discrimination rules and such, well, shes a threefer, Asiatic, feminist, and ah, whats the third? Well, lets only call her a twofer. She is a token. And deep down, she probably knows it.
Gary Shteyngart: ‘As a Queens boy, Trump was very impressive’19 days ago
As a Russian immigrant to the US, the author grew up looking up to Gordon Gekko and Donald Trump now, he hopes his satire about a hedge-fund manager stops people from becoming bankers
In June 2016, Gary Shteyngart got on a bus. It was a cross-country Greyhound of a kind romanticised by those who don’t have to use them, and that he would describe in Lake Success, his fourth novel, as emanating from a depot in central Manhattan that “smelled like someone had eaten a fish sandwich”. The 46-year-old’s notion was to travel for a few months through the country he had entered in 1979 with his parents, from the Soviet Union, and elements of which he was failing to recognise. “At that point,” he says, “Trump was already a candidate and I didn’t think he would win when I got on the bus.”
Like many New Yorkers, Shteyngart grew up with Trump and had seen him through several iterations. “As a Queens boy, Trump was very impressive,” he says. “You could see his mansion, which back then seemed gigantic. And he was trying to do what we were all trying to do, which was to get the hell out of Queens and into Manhattan. But for Manhattan people he was a joke. And when I later became a Manhattan person, he also became a joke. In a weird way, I made the transition and he didn’t, and the whole country has to pay for that.”
These days, Shteyngart is a Manhattan person to such a degreethat he has found it necessary to move part time out of Manhattan, to his second home in upstate New York. We sit in a park around the corner from his city apartment, and across the street from his old school, the insanely competitive Stuyvesant high school (which has since moved to new buildings in Lower Manhattan), an environment of bone-deep familiarity to Shteyngart that became less appealing to him during the writing of Lake Success. The novel describes, in a slow, hilarious arc, the developing nervous breakdown of Barry Cohen, a hedge-fund manager who walks out on his wife and autistic child to take an odyssey on the Greyhound, just as Trump’s campaign is transforming America.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
The Chosen Wars review: examine of American Jews uncovers familiar schisms24 days ago
Steven Weisman determines contention and dispute at every stage of Jewish American history including modern-day politics
On election day 2016, Hillary Clinton won more than 70% of the Jewish election. But that number tells only part of a narrative. In some predominately Orthodox Jewish precincts, Donald Trump’s numbers were straight out of the rust belt or the deep south.
As in the rest of the electorate, religious commitment and educational attainment shaped how Jews voted. In the overwhelmingly religion Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, Trump took 68% of the vote. In New Jersey’s Lakewood Township, he won with a 50 -point margin. By contrast, the island of Manhattan was a sea of Democratic blue.
The political cleavages that mark the broader American scenery existing between America’s Jews. Just as Jews were to be found on both sides of slavery, secession and the civil war, they are again combatants in a political skirmish. Think of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.
Welcome to The Chosen Wars, a narrative of the Jewish journey in the different regions of the American scenery. Steven Weisman, who covered politics and economics at the New York Times for a one-quarter of a century, marshals an impressive array of facts to argue that the competing tugs of separatism and assimilation have been present ever since Jews landed in the New world in the 17 th century, that even among the devout the broader culture affected religious practice, and that Jewish communal participation has ebbed and flowed with time.
As Weisman frames things,” Jewish belief in the Jewish people’s own unique identity … has been so strong that it remains a foundation of Jewish life in the United States .” He also acknowledges that identity” has always been and is very likely be one of contention and dispute “. Things are alloyed.
The book chronicles how the constitution’s establishment clause led to the laity’s domination within the synagogue. Most notably for Weisman, a schism within a Charleston shul triggered a landmark lawsuit and decision. Unlike Europe, the civil authorities would not pick sides even when asked. Ultimately, a South Carolina appellate court ruled in 1846 that the judiciary must avoid” questions of theological dogma, depending on speculative religion, or ecclesiastical rites “.
In other words, they would let the Jews duke it out among themselves.
At hours they actually did. Weisman describes an actual riot that have broken out on Rosh Hashanah 1850 in Albany, New York, over the nature of the Messiah. The police were called and the congregation scattered, but not before the synagogue chairwoman taunted the rabbi, Isaac Wise, saying:” I have $100,000 more than you .” Yet it was Wise’s rejection of a personal and national Messiah that shaped Reform Judaism. It represented a break from 2,000 years of tradition.
The book also examines how Darwin and criticism impacted attitudes toward the Bible, divine authorship taking a make. Emil Hirsch, a Reform Rabbi and professor at the University of Chicago, declared:” Modern scholarship has spoken, and its voice cannot be hushed .”
To put things in context, even those more traditionally minded were forced to respond or adjust to science.
On the one hand, within the Hasidic movement the dominant mantra remains:” If you are still troubled by the theory of evolution, I can tell you without anxiety of contradiction that it has not a shred of evidence to subsistence it .”
On the other, within Orthodoxy’s more modern circles there was a retreat from taking the creation narrative and Genesis’s timeline literally. A “day” came to be read as eons, and the Divine Hand could be found guiding the Descent of Man.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Mohsin Hamid on the rise of nationalism:’ In the land of the pure , no one is pure enough’1 month, 4 days ago
From Myanmar to Pakistan, the US and Britain, an preoccupation with purity is driving political, religious and moral agendas. But a retired from intricacy is no ensure of future harmony
Perhaps it is living half your life in Pakistan, for Pakistan is the land of the pure. Literally so: the land, stan, of the pure, pak. Perhaps that is why you have come to question the commonly held perception that purity is good and impurity is bad. For a tribe of humans newly arrived in a place never before inhabited by humans, such an outlook is perhaps sensible. Purity in a creek of water renders it fit to drink. Impurity in a piece of meat nauseates those who eat it. Purity is hence to be valued and impurity to be avoided, defied, expelled. And yet you believe the time has come to seek to reverse, at least partly, the emotional polarity of these two terms, to extol impurity’s benefits and denounce purity’s harms.
The issue is, of course, personal. We are each of us is comprised of atoms, but equally we are composed by hour. Since your time has been expended half inside Pakistan and half outside, and your outlook and postures shaped by this, you are in a sense half-Pakistani, which is to say, as Pakistan is the land of the pure, you are half-pure: an impossible country. You cannot exist as you are. Or instead, you are required impure. And if impurity is bad then you are bad. And to be bad is hazardous, in every society. So yes, the questions is personal, and pressing.
But in Pakistan, the questions is political as well, for it affects everyone. Once purity becomes what determines the rights a human being is afforded, indeed whether they are entitled to live or not, then there is a ferocious competition to establish hierarchies of purity, and in that contest no one can win. No one can ever be sufficiently pure to be lastingly safe. In the land of the pure , no one is pure enough. No Muslim is Muslim enough. And so all are suspect. All are at risk. And many are killed by others who find their purity lacking, and many of their killers are in turn killed for similar reasons. And on and on, in a chain reaction. The politics of purity is the politics of fission.
This should not be surprising. Pakistan was founded by fission, the splitting of British imperial India into two separate independent states, Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India. And Pakistan has experienced farther fission, the splitting of its western and eastern wings into Pakistan and Bangladesh. In each case, a more complex entity was broken into what was believed would be two more internally harmonious ones. But a retreat from complexity is no guaranty of future harmony. Too often, it is accompanied by the rise of a fetish for purity, the desire to exterminate persisting traces of intricacy within.
Pakistan is not unique. Rather, it is at the forefront of a worldwide trend. All around the world, governments and would-be governments appear overwhelmed by complexity and are blindly unleashing the power of fission, championing quests for the pure. In India a politics of Hindu purity is wrenching open deep and bloody rifts in a diverse society. In Myanmar a politics of Buddhist purity is massacring and expelling the Rohingya. In the United States a politics of white purity is marching in white hoods and red baseball caps, demonising Muslims and Hispanic people, killing and brutalising black people, jeering at intellectuals, and spitting in the face of climate science.
Emma Watson starts feminist book group on Twitter1 month, 19 days ago
Actor pledges to ask stars including Taylor Swift and JK Rowling to join platform for reading deliberation, to be named Our Shared Shelf
Harry Potter actor, UN ambassador and feminism campaigner Emma Waston has announced she is starting a feminist volume group on Twitter, called Our Shared Shelf. Watson, who is a goodwill ambassador for UN Women and figurehead of the gender equality campaign HeforShe, tweeted yesterday that she wanted to start the book club, with her request for indicated names for the group sparking a flurry of responses.
After suggestions including Wats Up Fems, Watson Your Shelf and Hermiones Army, Watson announced today that she absolutely loved Twitter user @ emilyfabbs suggestion: Our Shared Shelf and portended further information about the book club was still to come.
Twitters response has been enthusiastic: alongside punters, retired American footballer Abby Wambach, performer Sophia Bush and singer Kate Voegele have all tweeted they would take part in the club, with Watson agreeing to ask Harry Potter author JK Rowling and singer Taylor Swift to join in.
The first volume may have been chosen: when Wambach asked for nominations, Watson elected American feminist Gloria Steinems latest memoir, My Life on the Road, a collection of the authors reflections on her life and activism that the Guardian called illuminating.
Watson made headlines when she launched the UNs HeForShe campaign in 2014, asking men to help women tackle sexism and for increased awareness of the negative impact masculine stereotypes had on men. Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong, she said, in her speech to UN delegates.
Watson is not alone in her aspirations to start an online celebrity volume club: actor Gwyneth Paltrow operates a cookbook club on her lifestyle website Goop, while fellow actor Reese Witherspoon who has a history of producing film adaptations of her favourite books, including Gillian Flynns novel Gone Girl and Cheryl Strayeds memoir Wild runs a volume club on Instagram, on the hashtag #RWBookclub.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his biweekly volume club in January last year, focusing on books that have an emphasis on learning about different cultures, faiths, histories and technologies. Zuckerbergs first choice, The Objective of Power by Moises Naim, rocketed up the Amazon bestsellers list, outstripping 18 months of marketings in days after the announcement.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Alan Cumming: ‘If Donald Trump is the president, we are screwed’3 months, 4 days ago
In an appearance at the New York Public Library, the actor talked about Elizabeth Taylor, Monica Lewinsky and, naturally, the rise of Donald Trump
Many years ago, the actor Alan Cumming happened to attend a birthday party at Carrie Fishers home. He arrived early. He was so early, in fact, that he was the first guest to arrive. The second was Elizabeth Taylor.
Rather than drum up small talk with one of the great Hollywood stars of the 20 th century, Cumming told a mob at the New York Public Library on Wednesday night, he chose to slip into another room and get a drinking at the bar. Fisher, he told, then approached him and hissed, in a kind of stage whisper: What are you doing? Do you know how many homosexuals would like to be in your position? Cumming returned to the living room and promptly he and Liz fell into an enjoyable conversation.
This is the sort of anecdote Cumming tells in his new volume, You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams: My Life in Stories and Pictures, out this week in the US from Rizzoli. I wanted to give people literal and figurative snapshots, Cumming told the NYPLs Paul Holdengraber last night at the first event of the library Live at the NYPL series. Probably the most touching of these is a shot of himself with his grandmother. On the working day the photograph was taken, Cumming told, his grandmother defended him from relatives who are seeking to tease him about his newly bleached blond hair. If I was young, she said, Id be a freak like Alan too.
On the stage last night Cumming was not much like the characters he plays. He was constrained, spoke slowly and carefully and sometimes even sadly. He was wearing a T-shirt that earnestly extol him a Library All Star and implored, Get in video games, read! And at least at one point, he was visibly riled with Holdengrabers topics. This was when Holdengraber tried to draw a parallel between Cummings troubled relationship to his father, and his troubled relationship with the writer and critic Gore Vidal.
Vidal befriended Cumming in the early 2000 s, he told the audience, and he aimed up having mixed feelings about the relationship. He was flattered, at first, that Vidal liked him, but the more he got to know the famously caustic critic the more he was saddened by Vidals lack of exhilaration. I dont think he was a very nice person, he told Holdengraber. He recalled a visit with Vidal and Vidals partner, Howard Austen. The pair had been together for 50 years. But Cumming said he was shocked to hear Vidal say in front of Austen, Well, Ive never loved, of course. This seemed a cruel thing to say.
Still, Vidal had plainly profoundly affected Cumming. He said he had want to get title his book, I Wrote This Book Because Gore Vidal Told Me To, but his publishers hadnt let him.( That title was instead used for the one chapter in the book where he discusses the relationship .)
Another of Cummings disagreements with Vidal, he told, was over the Monica Lewinsky affair. Vidal was unsympathetic to Lewinsky and especially defended Bill Clintons famous statement that he did not have sex with that woman. Cumming is a good friend of Lewinskys and grew very serious talking about it.
The way that, you know, the most powerful man in the world and this 23 -year-old girl who was in love with him, this thing happened, this unfortunate thing happened, yet she was the one, the weak one he said, reaching for the words to describe his feelings. He was the one who abused his power, and she was the one who was berated, and denigrated, and whose life was made a misery.
Cumming also had opinions to share about Donald Trump. If Donald Trump is the president of this country, we are fucked, ladies and gentlemen, severely, he told.
In the book he writes about the style that Cabaret, the musical whose 1993 London revival was Cummings big breakout role, gradually immerses the reader in the prospect of Nazism. Holdengraber called this passageway prescient as to the present trend of politics. Cumming blanched at the thought. Six, seven, eight months ago, it was funny , now its not funny at all, he said.
The fact that he has been a candidate of a major party, Cumming continued, its a victory of the lack of value this country puts on education. We have allowed a generation of people to be uneducated, to not be able to analyze, to not care about what is happening in the world, to also be in a place where if they are told the same thing again and again and again, propaganda basically, they believe it to be true. He cited Brexitas another example of the same phenomenon.
The demographics of this country have changed so radically in the last generation, and Im hoping that rich, white, entitled humen like Donald Trump, their days of being able to say contentious, racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic things, are over, Cumming told. But Im not certain. And that fills me with such horror.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Russell Brand: ‘I was a needy person. I’m less mad now’3 months, 5 days ago
Hes moved to the country, had a baby and stayed away from politics but is the comedian ready for a quiet life?
The last time I interviewed Russell Brand was in 2008, around the time of Sachsgate, and he was a handful. When I asked him, as a joke, if he was going for world domination, he replied, “Yes, that is what I will do. What am I going to stop for? I’ll just carry on until there’s nothing left.” Nine years on, he has changed in some ways, and in others, not at all.
He still looks amazing: tall, long-haired, Gypsy-George-Best handsome; a dandy highwayman in black leather trousers and goth jewellery. His mind still fires faster than a machine gun, and his speech is just as packed with flowery words and detailed explanations, peppered with references to what he’s read (Jung, Harari, life coach Tony Robbins). And he’s still funny. But Brand is different. His ego is less all-consuming. In 2008, he was difficult with the photographer (not today, he’s fine) and, during our chat, he kept moving his head so that, even when I tried to glance away, he was constantly in my sight-line. It was as if my eyes were the spotlight and his face had to be in it. No more.
“Yes, I’m less mad now,” he says, when I mention this. “I was a needy person. I mean, that condition abides, but I manage it better now, I think.”
Back then, he was also very much a girl-hound – “I love fucking,” he told me. “My house has a hot tub for damned good reasons, and none of them spiritual.” But these days he’s settled, living in the countryside with his new wife Laura Gallacher (sister of Sky Sports presenter Kirsty), baby Mabel, two cats, a brace of chickens and a “maniac” dog. Having burned through his marriage to Katy Perry in two years, and dated Jemima Khan, his relationship with Gallacher, on and off for years, is now settled and domestic. Career-wise, he’s still a standup – he’s on a 71-date tour that will take him into 2018 – but seems to have stopped acting, and has shifted a lot of his public work to activism. In 2014, he began posting The Trews, his political YouTube show, garnering more than 1m subscribers. He’s now studying for an MA in religion in global politics at SOAS University of London. He hosts a wordy, thought-provoking podcast, Under The Skin, where he talks to academics, politicians and writers about contemporary ideas. Is this all less mad? It’s an effort to be more serious, certainly, though his daft performer’s instinct can send him off course in search of the joke, so that he gets ridiculed on political TV shows.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Rupert Cornwell obituary3 months, 14 days ago
Elegantly witty foreign correspondent whose work was proof of the enduring magical of real reporting
Rupert Cornwell, who has died aged 71, was the most gifted of reporters on the foreign scene from Moscow to Washington and many places in between of the past 45 years. Writing for Reuters, the Financial Time and the Independent, he had a distinctive grandeur and ease, marinated with sharp wit. His long pieces were like a classic David Gower innings. As in print, so in life. His dialogue was very funny, very dry and gently subversive.
He was my great friend from student days and companion on the road. After Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read modern Greek, he promptly moved from ad, which he detested, to Reuters. Soon he was on the move, to Paris, Brussels and back to Paris again, where he jumped ship and joined the FT.
At Oxford he seemed somewhat detached. This may have had something to do with the very large darknes of his father, the sometime developer, gambler and convicted bankrupt Ronnie Cornwell better known to wider audiences in fictional form as Rick in several volumes by Ruperts half-brother, David, aka John le Carr. Rupert was the son of Ronnies second matrimony, to the formidable Jeanie Gronow( nee Neal ).
He was mad about sport I recall being dragged to watch Celtic contest the European Cup final with a lifelong passion, and love-hate, for the Arsenal. His occasional athletics writing was top-flight.
It was when he became Rome correspondent for the FT in the 1970 s that things actually took off. This was the heyday of the Mephistophelean eight-time prime minister Giulio Andreotti, the surge of Enrico Berlinguers communists, mafia wars in Palermo and Naples, and exotic soccer scandals. Ruperts reporting technique was a wonder to behold. He used to go into its term of office, slam the door, and build merely two or three telephone call, his fellow FT correspondent James Buxton recollected. Then, an hour or so later out he would come the most amazing, immaculate piece of transcript the subs never needed to touch it.
But this is just ridiculous, he would remark, using a favourite catchphrase. I entail, reporting Italy is just like eating too much chocolate cake. Time to move on. Before moving, he wrote his only volume, Gods Banker( 1983 ), a brisk essay on Roberto Calvi, the rascal financier who was saw hanging under Blackfriars Bridge, London, in June 1982. It dedicated a pacy account of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal that very nearly broke the Vaticans bank.
Ruperts next posting, to Bonn, demonstrated the least happy. He found the place and the story dull, and German the most challenging of all the languages he was to learn he subsequently acquired fluent Russian on the run in a matter of months. His wedding to the Italian interpreter Angela Doria, with whom he had a son, Sean, is broken, though they remained on good terms.
In 1986 he decided to join the newborn Independent as its Moscow correspondent. His writing, portion pin-sharp reporting and proportion sly commentary, has been the epitome of the Independent style. In its pages he became the chronicler of the end of the Soviet empire. Of Mikhail Gorbachev, he wrote: His supreme failing was not to understand that communism could not reform itself. The tragedy of Gorbachev was that he never intended to get rid of communism, but to adapt it to compete with the far richer west. And of the attempt to oust Gorbachev, so moribund had a once ruthless system become, however, that it couldnt even organise a coup.
He loved the sheer quirkiness of the Moscow scene the need to barter paper for secondhand books, the demolition of his elegant Italian suede coat by Moscow dry cleaners, taking a lip reader to a debate in the Duma and matching her account with the official report. He was accompanied by his new spouse, Susan Smith, a correspondent with Reuters, and their son, Stas. His Moscow file brought him foreign correspondent of the year in the What the Papers Say awardings in 1988.
From Moscow he transferred to Washington, where he had two stints as the Independent bureau chief. In between he worked in London as feature novelist and diplomatic correspondent. Among the forgotten gems of this time is the full-page obituary of Diana, Princess of Wales, that he had to pull together in a few hours. It is a masterpiece of social observation, complemented by a mildly subversive undertow. Perhaps she was a manipulator, a strange mixture of the trusting, the calculate and the flaky, but she was forgiven the bulk of her sins, he wrote in a concluding paragraph. Flaky? Golly, If Id written that just a day or two later, I would have been hanged from the nearest lamp-post, he confessed merely a few weeks ago.
In Washington, he regularly skewered the presidents and their dynasties. He disliked the Bush junior years, admired the aloof Obama not least for his writing in Dreams from My Father and writing up Trumpery seemed the call of destiny.
He loved the roaring of the greasepaint and smell of the crowd of athletic above all baseball. Twelve years ago he wrote of the American League Championship contest between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and the long darknes of the Curse of the Bambino. In 1920 the Sox sold their star batter, Babe Ruth who had won the World Series for them in 1918 to the Yankees. And things ran severely for the Sox thereafter. Attempts to lift the curse spawned this paragraph: They have tried everything to exorcise it. They dredged a lake south of Boston where Ruths favourite piano is said to lie, they leave cans of beer on the gravestone at the Gate of Heaven cemetery 20 miles north of New York, where the famously bibulous slugger is buried.
And of course, there was Trump. In February Rupert choice the chaotic 80 -minute, stream-of-consciousness press conference as the cue to go in to bat for the MSM, the mainstream media. Its a tough chore, maintaining a focus on facts and truth, in the face of a mendacious propaganda barrage from a White House with indisputable authoritarian instincts. Reporting US politics now is about attempting transparency in what is the least transparent administration since Nixons day And the reviled MSM so far has hardly put a foot wrong.
Rupert carried on, acerbic and brilliant, through three years of cancer. In his languid, elegant style there was understated genius. His work is proof of the enduring magic of real reporting in the post-truth age.
A lot of Ruperts quiet feistiness came from and is in favour of his family: his wife, Susan, still pounding the Washington beat for Reuters, brother, David, and sister, the actor Charlotte Cornwell. They and his sons survive him.
Rupert Howard Cornwell, journalist, born 22 February 1946; died 31 March 2017
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Sherman Alexie’s mother’s ghost promptings him to cancel volume tour3 months, 15 days ago
The author, who was promoting memoir You Dont Have to Say You Love Me, reports that spectacular haunting and depression have led him to cancel dates
Sherman Alexie has cancelled a tour promoting his new memoir about his relationship with his late mom, citing depression and his belief that his mothers ghost has been haunting him since the book was published last month.
In an open letter to his readers, Alexie said that he would be cancelling all his appearances in August and many, but not all of his events for the rest of the year. The tour was intended to promote You Dont Have to Say You Love Me, about his mother Lillian Alexie, a woman the award-winning Native American writer describes as brilliant, funny, beautiful, generous, vindictive, deceitful, tender, manipulative, abusive, loving, and intimidating, and who died in 2015.
Lillian haunted me when she was alive. And she has haunted me since her demise in July 2015. And she has haunted me in spectacular styles since I publish my memoir a month ago. She has followed me from city to city during my promotional book tour, writes Alexie in a moving letter posted to his website and to Facebook. On three consecutive nights, in three different cities, police and ambulance sirens rang out as I told the story about the moment I learned of my mothers death Last night, as I returned to Seattle, I stepped off my airliner to find an airport valet waiting with a wheelchair for one of my fellow passengers. That valet held a sign with a familiar name a name that attained me giggle. That valet was waiting to ferry somebody named Lillian.
Alexie writes in his memoir that he doesnt believes in ghosts, but that he assures them all the time. He adds in his letter that I dont believe in the afterlife as a reality, but I believe in the afterlife as metaphor. And my mother, from the afterlife, is metaphorically kicking my ass.
During the course of his tour to date, Alexie said that he has been sobbing many times a day and rebreaking my heart night after night. He has, he writes, fallen ill with depression, and while he has recovered from the head cold that caused him to cancel events in Tulsa and Missoula last week, I couldnt medicate my sadness my complicated heartbreak. And then his mother appeared in one of his dreams, holding a sign that[ told] STOP.
I think the meaning of that dream is obvious. It means I am supposed to stop this book tour, writes Alexie, apologising to both readers and booksellers for his decision, but promising that he will still be penning, and that he will return to the road when he is strong enough.
When I told Diane, my spouse, about my mothers ghost and about my plans to cancel so many events, she told: Maybe its your mother taking care of you from heaven. Maybe, I said. But I think its probably your subconscious taking care of the rest of you. I think its likely you being a good mom to yourself. You are mothering you. So here I am the son and the mother combined who needs to take a big step back and do most of my mourning in private.
Because of the short notice, Alexie will still appear at events in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco this month. The author of 26 books, he is the win of the PEN/ Faulkner awarding for fiction, as well as the National Book Award for young peoples literature for his bestseller The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The young adult novel is one of the most challenged volumes in US schools, with many objections citing profane language and sexual content.
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