barack obama

Seven Interviews for a Cold November Afternoon

This week, Emily recommends some insightful interviews to keep you company on a slow autumnal afternoon.

If April is the cruelest month and July is the most exuberant, then November, I think, is the most introspective. It’s cold outside, and the days are getting shorter, and everyone’s looking forward to getting together with friends and family for Thanksgiving (here in the States at least) and then the holidays. It’s not so much a time of going out to picnics and barbecues and meeting new people — it’s a time of huddling up with a good book or album (see our list from last year for recommendations!) and checking-in with yourself.

It’s no surprise, then, that the main November-y quote that’s been going around my social media feeds this week is from Famous Introvert Emily Dickinson:

It is also November. The noons are more laconic and the sunsets sterner, and Gibraltar lights make the village foreign. November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.

(Note: that link is TOTALLY worth your time. Not to over-promote my own curatorial attempts or anything, but seriously. It’s awesome.)

Whatever Famous Introvert Emily Dickinson might have to say about it, though, introspection isn’t just about sitting alone, though. It’s about good conversation and meaningful dialogue and emotional intimacy. It’s about thinking about yourself, but not in a totally narcissistic way. It’s about taking stock. So this week, in honor of good conversations, and meaningful dialogue, and grey November afternoons, I’m recommending seven interviews to keep you company as you cuddle up with wool blankets and kitty cats and long novels and all of the other accoutrements of slow autumnal days.

1. Joel Lovell Interviews Stephen Colbert for GQ

Lovell turns a gorgeous interview with Colbert (about the then-forthcoming Late Show) into a profile that covers show biz, politics, silliness, Tolkien, religion, and grief.

“The next thing he said I wrote on a slip of paper in his office and have carried it around with me since. It’s our choice, whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain. ‘At every moment, we are volunteers.’”

2. Marilynne Robinson and Barack Obama Converse, in Two Parts

Obama and Robinson interview each other — or maybe just chat — for the New York Review of Books.

“And it [Hamilton: An American Musical] is brilliant, and so much so that I’m pretty sure this is the only thing that Dick Cheney and I have agreed on—during my entire political career—it speaks to this vibrancy of American democracy, but also the fact that it was made by these living, breathing, flawed individuals who were brilliant.”

(Sorry, you guys. I’m really really not done connecting everything in my life back to Hamilton. But, in my defense, Barack Obama isn’t either.)

3. Matt Gourley Interviews Stephen Tobolowsky on I Was There Too

On a film podcast dedicated to interviewing people who were also in famous moments in cinema history, Matt Gourley sits down to talk with Stephen Tobolowsky about Groundhog Day, Harold Ramis, and Deadwood.

4. Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton Interview Hillary Clinton on Another Round

The hosts of the excellent podcast Another Round talk to Hillary Clinton about politics, sexism, Black Lives Matter, and squirrels.

5. Miranda July Interviews Rihanna

Miranda July turns an interview with Rihanna — in which they talk about Instagram, guys, and race — into a meditation on what it means to feel connected to celebrities.

“‘Rihanna. I’m going to meet her, to interview her. That’s where we’re going.’’

‘‘You kidding? That’s my girl,’’ he said. ‘‘I love her. She’s so down-to-earth. She always keep it cool with her friend and her family. Her and Melissa, I think they are the best celebrity friends. I always say that.’’

6. Susan Burton Interviews Terry Gross for The New York Times

Susan Burton talks to Terry Gross about what it means to have an intimate conversation with a stranger.

‘‘I try not to confuse the two. I try not to equate the interview with real life. But at the same time, there’s an intimacy in the interview — like, I’m telling you things that people I work with probably don’t know, because it doesn’t come up. I would tell them if they asked, but it’s just not a part of what you talk about in day-to-day work life necessarily.’’

7. Terry Gross Interviews Maurice Sendak on Fresh Air

Terry Gross, the Queen of Interviews herself, talks with Maurice Sendak about life, death and children’s literature.

“Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.”

Happy Reading!

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