Six busy people reveal how they have fun

| March/April 2001


The Game of Life
-Mark Harris

-Andy Steiner

Running Scared
-Craig Cox

The Miracle of Mediocrity
-Jon Spayde

Discuss the Joy of Play. Click here: café

Utne Essay Contest
What are your secrets for
having fun?
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Ishmael Reed

Cerebral R&R

He’s published nine novels and five books of poetry. In 1962 he helped found The East Village Other, a landmark underground newspaper. He’s been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, has written two librettos and numerous television scripts. Since the late 1960s, he’s been a popular lecturer at UC Berkeley. His latest book of essays, The Reed Reader (Basic Books), hit bookstores last year.

So what does Ishmael Reed do for fun?

'I guess I have what you’d call serious hobbies,' Reed says from his home in Oakland, California. 'For the past 10 years, I’ve been studying two languages—Yoruba and Japanese. It came in very handy when I went to Japan, and in Nigeria I was able to read some of my work in their language. With the help of a tutor, I’ve been translating The Force of God, the epic of the Yoruba culture, into English. In my spare time, I study jazz piano.'

So is it fair to assume that for Reed, play is serious business, rigorous exercise for a complex mind—not cerebral R&R?