“I first encountered A. Igoni Barrett here at The Millions, with his autobiographical essay, ‘I Want To Be A Book.’…Betrayals drive many of Barrett’s stories, but he takes pains to illuminate the love beneath them. For this insight alone, Barrett is worth reading.”
As I lost myself in Maazel’s gorgeous, dryly comic prose, it made me wonder about all the great love songs of the past: do we not write songs about the ones that come easy? Or do we hope that in capturing loneliness, as Maazel does so very well, we can better understand it, face it, and appreciate its possibilities?
I would argue that decent books coverage in a daily newspaper — especially when it’s presented in such a way that readers are likely to stumble over it and discover titles they might not otherwise have heard of — is more supportive of writers in the long run than a scholarship program.
In Alice Munro’s latest collection, Dear Life, many of her characters are happy or find happiness but that happiness is never complete, never without complications or compromise. It’s interesting to consider Dear Life as the critically acclaimed television show 30 Rock, comes to an end…
Forster certainly didn’t take a bright view of his sexual prospects. His knowledge of sexual matters in general may not have been great: as he admits in the fragmentary memoir called ‘Sex’, written in the Locked Diary but sadly excluded by Philip Gardner, ‘My instinct has never given me true information about sex’; ‘not till I was 30 did I know exactly how male and female joined’ – that is to say, when he was writing Howards End, with its extramarital pregnancy that ‘deeply shocked’ Forster’s mother when she read the book.
We are living in a Hesiodic golden age for biographies. Name your favorite dead person, and I will give you the ISBN of a good biography of him written in the last 20 years. The obscurity of your enthusiasms be damned: I assure you that someone has written at least a short, competent life. Even the quixotic British parliamentarians Enoch Powell and Michael Foot, two of my favorite post-war politicians, have received the deluxe, 600-plus page treatment. (As I write this, a sly rogue named Rory Stewart is working on a joint biography of both men, having doubtless figured out that there are enough of us Powellite cum Footians to ensure that a few thousand copies get moved.)