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Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama on writing--and reading

Hattip to Mother Reader for posting this:

"There was one question in particular of interest to us book lovers, and
that came from a woman who asked what Obama would say to young writers. He was
surprised by the question, which he admitted was one he hadn’t heard before, but
didn’t hesitate to answer. He referenced his two books, and specifically
mentioned how he wrote them himself, along with many of his speeches. With a
light inflection, he said, “In terms of getting a job, knowing how to write is a
good thing.” He talked about how he kept a journal, and how it was important for
teaching him not only how to write, but also how to think. But my favorite part
was when he said, “Over the course of four years I made time to read all of the
Harry Potter books out loud to my daughters. If I can do that and run for
president, then you can find time to read to your kids. That’s some of the most
special time you have with your children.”

On another unrelated note, my MacBook crashed this morning and I'm working here and there out of the library. I hate these clunky Dell keyboards. No other choice, though. Pray, pray that repairs are not too expensive and I've not lost too much since my last backup. UGGHHH!

1 comment:

dewitthenry said...

You will appreciate James Alan McPherson's introduction to the current issue of Ploughshares (, where he links Obama to young writers: "It might be said that the variety of young writers in this issue of Ploughshares are “neighboring.” If there is a common thread in the stories here, I think it must be the communal effort to gain perspective on the highly complex areas of our fuzzy and fragmented American reality. We seem to live our lives against a backdrop of emotional fragmentation and failure of purpose: the economy, the various wars in the Middle East, the decay of rights movements (civil rights, feminism, economic help for those in poverty, sexual choice in marriage). In recent months, the media has been almost obsessed in its explanation of the appeal of Barack Obama. He seems to move beyond being black, a certified political liberal or conservative. His appeal seems to be spiritual but not necessarily religious. And he has inspired the enthusiastic support of a tremendous number of Americans, not all of them black or young. Many years ago, one of my mentors, the critic and novelist Albert Murray, coined a term that has kept inspiring me for the past thirty years. When the civil rights movement began drifting towards separatism and Black Nationalism, Murray argued in one of his books, The Omni-Americans, that black Americans derive from a very long and very deep association with the racial and cultural traditions of this country. Murray argued that the exploration of these influences might enable black people to look beyond nationalism and to recognize, if not embrace, the traditions of other groups within the American cultural environment. The result of this “integration” would be a newer and culturally complex kind of American. Such reflexive embraces would make members of the group more receptive to the mores of other Americans.
In his appeal to the political as well as to the emotional quests of people from a great number of groups, Obama is clearly the Omni-American that Albert Murray had in mind. One source of his appeal is that he thinks and operates beyond race and class and sexual orientation—beyond all the social categories that function as substitutes for a transcendent American identity."