paper trail

Nov 7, 2012 @ 12:29:00 am

Richard Nixon

President Obama and Elie Weisel are co-authoring a book, the 84-year-old Holocaust survivor told Haaretz last week. What the book’s about is anybody’s guess: Weisel has been tight-lipped about the project, calling it only “a book of two friends.”

To commemorate superstorm Sandy, n+1 has reposted Chad Harbach’s essay on the post-catastrophe novel. These novels “liberate the violent potential of technology (and its enemy, nature) to create an altered world whose chief characteristic is a bewildering lack of technology... Our future, like our past, may be virtually free of oil, and global culture, and many of the social safeguards we enjoy. Thus the novel of future catastrophe threatens to become a version of the historical novel.”

Since the mid-1950s, presidential races have come down to political narratives. This year, Obama’s poor performance in the first debate, the onset of superstorm Sandy, and the employment statistics provided the fodder, while the narrative itself was carefully managed by teams of political operatives. Reporter Joe McGuinness first started tracking this phenomenon in 1969 through his book The Selling of the President 1968, which tracked Richard Nixon’s 1968 run for president, and has just been rereleased as a Byliner e-book. Writing about the book for the Los Angeles Times, critic David Ulin notes that while many of McGuinness’s original observations remain more relevant than ever, “in the 43 years since The Selling of the President, the dynamics have irrevocably shifted — the manufactured narrative is all we get.”

Meanwhile, in the New York Times Magazine, Matt Bai wonders what happened to Obama’s narrative mojo.

Lest we forget, the people who brought us Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot now return with Binders Full of Women’s Poems. According to their website, for four pounds (they’re British) readers get “a binder, full of outspoken poems by writers who identify as female, trans, intersex, or gender-neutral.” All proceeds will go to Rape Crisis UK.