In honor of Presidents' Day, check out this Q+A with Maira Kalman, illustrator, contributor to The New York Times and The New Yorker, and, most importantly, staunch lover of Abe Lincoln.
As someone with his own bloated infatuation with Abe Lincoln, you don'treally have to sell me on this particular tall drink of water, but whatdraws you to writing about Abraham?
Maira Kalman: He looks strange and brilliant. With very smart sharp eyes. And I love sharp eyes.
You've also written and illustrated tales of other presidents andhistorical figures. Where does your fascination with history stem from?
MK: I never was interested in history, because I just wasn't, but I was sent on an assignment for The New York Times and we decided I would do something I had no interest in. I would be naive.
What's something that has shocked you to discover in researching Lincolnor some of your other subjects?
MK: How smart they were. How sophisticated. How they read Lucretius and Spinoza (Jefferson). How much Lincoln loved Shakespeare. And Mozart.They were thinkers of a very high order.
If you could visit any other time period and place in history, whichwould it be and what would you do there?
MK: I would like to visit Hadrian in ancient Rome. I think we would walk around and look at the Pantheon together and have a tea or coffee somewhere. Visit Versailles and hang around the court for a few weeks.
What's the last work of art you fell in love with?
MK: I am reading Remembrance of Things Past -- really reading -- and I am besotted and madly in love with M. Proust. I don't know what is going on half the time, but the way he goes on is like a blood transfusion. I am filled with the music of the words.
What are you working on right now?
MK: Right now, I am getting ready to go to my friend's house and play Scrabble. Tomorrow, I will sketch ideas for a New Yorker cover. And then I will sew a felt bag for my iPad.