Good Morning Midnight, Jean Rhys

Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy Vol. 4, Roy Crane

I’ve been listening to The Anthropocene Reviewed, a monthly podcast that “reviews different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale” by the YouTube Personality (??) and young adult novelist John Green. This makes it sound like something I wouldn’t or shouldn’t like, but in fact I find it astounding and compelling and inspirational. Each episode blends the macro and the micro, the pedestrian and the absurd, the personal and the universal, and manages to say something original and true about the way we live today. Even the conceit of a five-star scale is more poetry that joking artifice; of course a work about living in the modern Western world would place Diet Dr. Pepper and cholera on the same footing, and would reduce them both to a rating.

I also like Anthropocene because I feel it’s the best work of Green’s career by far — I’ve read his books, which are sometimes good though deeply flawed — and he didn’t discover this ideal vessel for his ideas and approach until age 40, after producing many novels, videos, podcasts, and probably other things that I’m not aware of. In some of those other works, there are earlier versions of ideas presented in Anthropocene, but now they’re better articulated, more integrated into the work, more compelling. Green reads each episode aloud with careful rhythm, displaying an astute understanding the intimacy of the spoken word and the value of silence.

As someone endlessly interested in how to construct a creative life that is fulfilling and successful (which I don’t measure financially), this podcast is a resounding reassurance that I should keeping working and keep trying new things — because if I’m lucky, one day all the pieces will suddenly fit together, if only for a little while, and I’ll say something worth saying.