In a recent interview with the New York Times, President Obama revealed that, along with being a published author and a lover of literature, he has also dabbled in writing short stories.
The commander-in-chief is no stranger to the world of writing. He keeps a journal, and his published works include Dreams from My Father, The Audacity of Hope, and Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, all of which are nonfiction. But fiction-lovers will be excited to learn that, as the Times reports, “Mr. Obama taught himself to write as a young man by keeping a journal and writing short stories when he was a community organizer in Chicago — working on them after he came home from work and drawing upon the stories of the people he met. Many of the tales were about older people, and were informed by a sense of disappointment and loss.”
Characterizing the stories himself, Obama said, “There is not a lot of Jack Kerouac open-road, young kid on the make discovering stuff. It’s more melancholy and reflective.”
While most presidents are big readers, President Obama has stood out among others because of his outspoken love of fiction. He often discusses how his life has been shaped by reading, during his time in the White House and well before.
“I loved reading when I was a kid,” he told the Times, “partly because I was traveling so much, and there were times where I’d be displaced, I’d be the outsider. When I first moved to Indonesia, I’m this big, dark-skinned kid that kind of stood out. And then when I moved back from Indonesia to Hawaii, I had the manners and habits probably of an Indonesian kid. And so the idea of having these worlds that were portable, that were yours, that you could enter into, was appealing to me.”
This sentiment rings true to all book-lovers: the strongest appeal of reading fiction is the ability to transport ourselves out of the real world into a variety of others.
It’s been reported that the president plans to write a memoir after he officially leaves office, but maybe we’ll be reading his short stories someday as well.
YouTube Channel: Associated Press
Featured image via WhiteHouse.gov