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Happy Birthday, David Remnick (and Other News)

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He was born on this day in 1958. There’s a charming interview with Remnick in the Independent (sadly, the piece seems to have just been archived) about his childhood in New Jersey, life at Princeton, and an early job teaching English in Japan where he was forbidden to date his students, so he “must have read a book or two a day for six months.” (My poet friend Richard Matthews, who taught in Korea, had much the same experience; I remember him saying he’d reread all of Joyce pretty recently, but had just reread it.) Some of the same territory of Remnick’s growing up and career is in this extensive Booknotes transcript from 1993. Remnick’s interview tone was jauntier then, but the details about the writing of Lenin’s Tomb (which I’ve been reading lately) and his time in Russia are fascinating. This his how he answers Brian Lamb’s question “Why did you pick The New Yorker?”
I picked The New Yorker because I was raised to think that that was where nirvana was. More than a daily newspaper reporter, I fancied myself a writer of longer things — not better, just different. Happily at the Washington Post they had room and found room for longer things in the “Style” section and even foreign. There’s a very innovative foreign editor there, Michael Getler, who really does like to open up the section quite a bit. But in the end of ends, a daily newspaper is a daily newspaper and to buck that is folly. The New Yorker is where New Yorker pieces should be, not the Washington Post.
If you liked Hilton Als’s Profile of Susan-Lori Parks as much as I did, you’ll be pleased to see that 365 Days/365 Plays begins in November with participating theaters in New York. The Public Theater has the full schedule with a list of all the theaters.
Someone’s started a whole blog just to publish her letter to The New Yorker about Atul Gawande’s October 9 story, “The Score: How Childbirth Went Industrial.” The letter writer, Faith Gibson—“a mother of three, grandmother of two, former ER and L&D nurse, birth educator, web wife and presently a professional midwife with a small private practice on the San Francisco peninsula”—has written a long response to Gawande’s piece as well and encourages a public dialogue on the subject.
Alarming news: Nadine Gordimer was attacked in her house in South Africa during a burglary. She wasn’t seriously injured, and refused to give up her wedding ring, but she was locked in a storeroom for a while. Scary.

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