by George Lubitz
In the aftermath of the inauguration, many of us still remember the hundreds of partisan talking points that were drilled into our heads during the campaign, stuck in our minds like a catchy song that just won’t leave. Some of us want to forget everything and get lost in a good book or TV show, while others are more invested than ever in politics and government. Luckily for either of those two groups (who both happen to be followers of bloomers and bloomer-related happenings), we’ve got plenty of literary news this month that fits right in line with the goings-on of post-inauguration America.
It’s worth noting first off that President Trump is reportedly considering cutting government spending by doing away with the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA makes up just 0.003 percent of the federal budget and is responsible for offering grants to artists, museums, operas, theaters, and more. Additionally, it grants fellowships in literature, creative writing, and translators for exceptional work in prose. If you’re a fan of any of our featured bloomers—or are simply a fan of art in any form—you can thank the NEA in large part for catalyzing some of the best American creatives we see today, along with supporting vital nonprofit cultural institutions.
On the topic of presidents, you should look very forward to George Saunders’ debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo, about Abraham Lincoln and his dying son, Willie. Saunders takes this historical detail and weaves together a transcendent and palpable story of grief and empathy. Kirkus review says, “With this book, Saunders asserts a complex and disturbing vision in which society and cosmos blur.” Saunders has published countless short stories over the years, and yet this is his first ever novel. And so, we welcome Mr. Saunders with open arms into the ranks as a celebrated bloomer-novelist. The book is set to release February 14.
Washingtonian came out with a rather comprehensive list of books, songs, and TV shows aimed at giving you an idea of what makes D.C. what it is. The list mentions classics like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and the music of Duke Ellington. It also gives a shout out to bloomer Edward P. Jones, whom they name “the reigning master of stories about African-American life in the [DC] area.” Be sure to check out his short story collections, like Lost in the City and All Aunt Hagar’s Children, all the while learning more about the capital and where our government calls home.
In a similar vein of government and power, bloomer-filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino’s TV drama “The Young Pope” premiered on HBO this month in the United States. The writer-director is known for crafting merciless, power-hungry characters, and The Ringer came out with an article decoding “The Young Pope” through the lens of his previous works. “The Young Pope” stars Jude Law as the first American and youngest man to ever become leader of the Catholic Church. It certainly is a dark take on the goings-on and corruption within Vatican City (think “House of Cards,” but Catholic) and it might either be the best or worst show to watch in the wake of the inauguration. Either way, it’s a damn-good show.
And who could forget everybody’s favorite democratic ceremony of high influence and power—the Golden Globes! Earlier this month members of the Hollywood Foreign Press and the film/TV industries came together and celebrated the best in showbiz, including—of course—bloomer-actor Tracee Ellis Ross, who won Best Actress TV Comedy for her performance on “Black-ish.” In her acceptance speech she said that “this is for all women, women of color, and colorful people, whose stories, ideas, thoughts are not always considered worthy.” After thanking her friends, family, and co-stars she noted, “It’s nice at 44. I like it here!” Way to go, Tracee! We couldn’t agree more!
Bloomer Paula Whyman, whom we featured here at Bloom last May, and author-editor Mikhail Iossel have responded to our current times by founding a new literary journal, Scoundrel Time. In her editor’s letter, Whyman writes:
Today there are forces trying their hardest to divide us. In the face of that, art in its many forms can give voice to our concerns, hopes, fears, anxieties—and joys. Art can provide solace. It can spur engagement. It can increase understanding. It can help us feel less alone. We have a common language, the language of story. In a way, it all comes down to stories: whether they’re told through words or visually or otherwise, stories remind us of our humanity. And anything that can remind us of that essential quality we all share is crucial …
Amen to that. Check it out, join the community, submit your work.
Finally, LitHub released a list of 75 books to read during the next four years, which includes titles by James Baldwin, William Faulkner, and one of our favorites, bloomer Agnes Martin (among many others). In the months and weeks and years to come, perhaps getting lost in a good book (like The Audacity of Hope or The Evidence of Things Not Seen) isn’t such a bad idea after all. Support the arts, keep reading (and watching) all of your favorite bloomers, and be sure to check out as many of this month’s new works as possible.
George Lubitz is a senior at Skidmore College. His work has been featured in Gravel Magazine, The Adroit Journal, and he is the Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief at The Skidmo’ Daily, Skidmore’s satirical magazine.