At the moment I'm reading a wonderful book by Rockwell Kent, who is much better known as a painter but he sailed to Greenland and back in 1929, in a 26-foot sailboat. He wrote about it in a book called N by E, meaning north by east. It's Kent's illustrations and his account of the trip. It's a great mix of bold, simple writing and thoughtful passages. I'm at various stages reading the following books: Ted Hughes's prose poem called Gaudette, [which is] outlandishly dark, mythic stuff. There's a book called The Interpreter by Alice Kaplan. It's about the execution of black G.I.'s in France for alleged war crimes, which were really trumped-up charges. It was basically Southern lynchings but in the American military [during World War II]. Pretty regularly, I read Cormac McCarthy, who is a fantastic novelist. I just reread Blood Meridien. He's the best writer in the English language at the moment. Suttree is his best novel, though it's not as well known. It's not quite as blood-soaked as some of his others.
I know a guy called Matt who started Fat Possum Records in Mississippi. He turned me on to The Black Keys. He just recently sent me a disc by a band called Deadboy and the Elephantmen which is the best thing I've heard in a very long time. It's sort of a mix between Nirvana unplugged and Chris Whitley. I just went and bought a bunch of stuff I used to listen to in college. I'm very curious to hear Hendrix and Cream. I saw a video of Hendrix - just a five-second clip - I was stunned. I had forgotten how powerful he is. My wife is from Bulgaria and she'd never heard Cream and I [said], 'You've gotta hear this.' I did the same thing with Led Zeppelin a couple of years ago.
Lilya 4Ever, about the trafficking of women in Russia, is about the single most devastating movie I've ever seen. I wrote an article about the trafficking of women in Kosovo. A very brutal topic. [The movie] is heavily based on a very sad reality. My wife and I walked out of the theater and my wife was in tears. There were men on the sidewalk outside crying.
• Sebastian Junger's "A Death in Belmont," a nonfiction book about a murder case in Boston, has been published by Norton.