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Writers on Obama

January 20, 2009 |  4:19 am


The L.A. Times asked several writers to contemplate the Obama presidency. In his introduction to their work, which appeared Sunday, Books Editor David L. Ulin explains:

At such a time, it makes sense to turn to writers. As contrarians, they are comfortable balancing opposing principles and conflicting ideas. In some sense, this is part of the appeal of Obama, who is, among other things, a writer and, as such, familiar with nuance and ambiguity. ...

Susan Straight and Rubén Martínez write, respectively, on race and representation, which have been changed (or complicated) irrevocably by the promise of an Obama presidency.

Jane Smiley and Rebecca Solnit write about the political responsibilities of the writer, each touching, in her own way, on how the last eight years have made possible the change Obama represents.

Ben Ehrenreich offers up a pointed bit of satire. And Ted Widmer presents a capsule history of presidents and culture, suggesting that it is sometimes the least expected chief executive who has the greatest effect.

On Tuesday,Barack Obama will be inaugurated as 44th President of the United States. I don't expect he's got enough time to be reading all of these suggestions and musings, but that's OK -- he's writing history. 

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times