Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘lit and politics’

Shop Talk |

Mr. President, tell us a story

One year after President Obama’s inauguration, everyone seems to have either criticism or advice for his administration–for pushing health care reform; for not yet passing health care reform; for not waving his magic wand to fix the economy, eradicate H1N1, and end both wars; for not leaping tall buildings in a single bound. But author Junot Diaz points out a different problem in an an essay in the New Yorker: President Obama’s lack of storytelling since his election. All year I’ve been waiting for Obama to flex his narrative muscles, to tell the story of his presidency, of his Administration, […]


Reviews |

Secret Son, by Laila Lalami

Few places are more evocative of mystery and the exotic than Casablanca. And anyone who has ever imagined its fragrances or color will recognize the setting of Laila Lalami’s second novel. But those who imagine Casablanca merely as a city of romance and North African charm may find themselves at a loss to reconcile the spices of their imagination with the brutal realities of poverty and the political and religious corruption Lalami portrays in Secret Son (Algonquin Books, April 2009).


Interviews |

Know Then Thyself: A Conversation with Jeffrey Rotter

Lee Thomas talks to debut novelist Jeffrey Rotter about the social risks of homemade clothing, museums as metaphors, the parallels between As I Lay Dying and reality T.V., and the ways in which imagination can change the world – for good and evil. The title of Rotter’s novel, The Unknown Knowns, alludes to that Donald Rumsfeld speech of linguistic loop-de-loops that would have driven George Orwell crazy; the book, which looks askance at our modern take on “Us vs. Them,” tackles the ontological questions presented by our vague and shadowy paranoia, but ups the ante considerably beyond the present moment in history to the personal crises that drive all good stories.


Shop Talk |

while we're talking book clubs…

Politico.com is calling Obama “the next Oprah.” The president’s widely circulated summer reading list seems to have given every book on it a huge bump in sales, as indicated by these Amazon rankings (stats are via Politico) BEFORE = on Monday, before Obama’s list was released / AFTER = as of Wednesday): – The Way Home by George Pelecanos — BEFORE: no. 33,349 / AFTER: no. 328 – Lush Life, by Richard Price — BEFORE: no. 74,289 / AFTER: no. 10,295 – Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman — BEFORE: no. 231 / AFTER: no. 41 – John Adams […]


Shop Talk |

In Protest of Dullness, or Why I'm Glad Our President Reads Novels

This nearly week-old David Brooks op-ed is infuriating for many reasons (such as its writer’s blatant scoffing at and outright denial of–despite the current economic disaster–the notion that to run a truly successful company or country, a leader should have the prescience to realize that the world around him or her is always changing, the ability to connect with and understand that world and the people in it, and the imagination and flexibility to adjust to that world’s advancements and its people’s diverse and changing needs), but in the name of this website and our shared passion for fiction, dear […]


Shop Talk |

palin fails poetry, grammar

We knew Palin could recite fiction. Now Slate’s Hart Seely adds line breaks to give us the poetry of Sarah Palin; among her works are “Befoulers of the Verbiage,” “Small Mayors,” and a haiku. Also on Slate, Kitty Burns Florey attempts to diagram the candidate’s sentences. “…The more the diagram is forced to wander around the page, loop back on itself, and generally stretch its capabilities, the more it reveals that the mind that created the sentence is either a richly educated one—with a Proustian grasp of language that pushes the limits of expression—or such an impoverished one that it […]




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