Archive for category biography
Obituaries have always fascinated me, for the stories they tell.
So when pal of the blog, award-winning novelist and host of History Channel’s Decoded, Brad Meltzer, sent me a link to his new TEDxMIA speech, How To Write Your Own Obituary, I clicked on it immediately.
As with most things Meltzer, it’s worthwhile viewing.
“Reading [Blair] Fuller’s piece [in Paris Review Daily], it occurred to me that a general call for first-person anecdotes about Salinger should be issued, and the sooner the better. It has been reported that an authorized biography will probably never be allowed, and as noble an effort as an unauthorized biography may be, I think I’d prefer to hold in my hand a collection of personal remembrances like Fuller’s—each one a pearl, no digging required. Or maybe the Paris Review could be convinced to apply the George Plimpton Oral Biography treatment to Salinger’s life (like this wonderful one of Truman Capote): “J.D. Salinger: In Which Various Goddam Hot-shots and Phonies Recall his Strange and Wonderful Career.”
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2011/02/a-night-with-jerry.html#ixzz1Dd75NIuE
The wheels of my interest in Christopher Hitchens fell off when 9/11 changed his political outlook so drastically. And I’m a little ashamed to admit, I’ve become interested in what he has had to say since he announced he was battling esophageal cancer. OK, honestly the interest returned when I found out he’d written a memoir, Hitch 22, but the cancer announcement came soon after, so consider it a morbid tie.
The video above is an extended web version of an interview conducted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper that partially aired on August 5 (a transcript of the edited version can be found here). I’ve never thought of Cooper as much as an interviewer. This video proves me wrong. It’s insightful and fortunately does not focus solely upon Hitchens’ mortality and cancer (but understandably it’s the main focus).
It’s painful to see how physically diminished Hitchens is. But, despite his disbelief in my faith, I am praying for him to beat this thing. He states that he appreciates the sentiments behind the prayers, but he clearly believes it will do no good. I love how he wards off the possibility of a deathbed faith conversion in this interview, conceding he might convert if addled by the cancer or drugs. Hitchens clearly has examined about every damn angle. Good luck to him. I hope he’s around ticking me off for a very long time.
Over the past few years, my increasing interest in Americana music has prompted me to explore its roots. This exploration recently led me to David N. Meyer‘s book, Twenty Thousands Road: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music. As a Georgia native, it surprised me to learn that Parsons spent his earliest years in Waycross, Georgia. But that’s far from the only thing I learned in this engaging book. Meyer was kind enough to discuss the book and his research process in this recent email interview.
Tim O’Shea: In writing about Parsons’ life, considering that his musical career was essentially 10 years, were you surprised you were able to devote 300 pages to that aspect of his life or could you have written more if you had had the time and space (in publishing terms)?
David N. Meyer: I had to be conscious of holding back from writing too much. I found pretty much every detail fascinating, and given how compressed GP’s career was, illuminating as well. And it’s tempting to include every nugget; ask any biographer. So, no, I was not surprised.
O’Shea: Most biographies don’t sport encyclopedias. What motivated you to do one?
Meyer: I imagined a 15-year-old finding this book 15 years from now, and not having any idea who a number of the mentioned musicians, family members and cultural figures were. While ample web resources exist, I wanted to provide context. It’s that completist thing, too. I wanted readers to be able to instantly read and contextualize anyone mentioned in the book. It was also a lot of fun to write.