Posts Tagged: The Paris Review

A Productive Unhappiness

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Why is it that knowing how to remain alone in Paris for a year in a miserable room teaches a man more than a hundred literary salons and forty years’ experience of ‘Parisian life’?

Over at the Paris Review Daily, Alice Kaplan, author of the new biography Looking for the Stranger, writes about Albert Camus’s time in Paris, from the months he spent in a Montmartre hotel room toiling his way through the first draft of The Stranger to his return to report on and fight the German occupation.

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On the Road

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In his monthly series “The Lives of Others” over at the Paris Review, Edward White introduces us to globe-trotting Turkish writer, Evliya Çelebi, and the esoteric but lively book of travel stories he penned almost four centuries ago:

Evliya so adored the bustling energy of Istanbul that he dedicated the first volume of the Seyahatname to it.

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Ordinary Days of Grandeur

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Don’t miss the weekly staff picks over at the Paris Review. Lorin Stein recommends Brenda Shaughnessy’s soulful and stripped down So Much Synth, Jeffery Gleaves praises “mother writer” Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors, and Caitlin Youngquist writes of Bernadette Mayer’s Works and Days, “Hardly any of Mayer’s days are spectacular, but her eye is so keenly attuned to all that surrounds her that nearly everything feels touched with grandeur.”

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What’s in a Name?

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If there are indeed an infinite number of universes, it’s nice to think there might be one where all of the books we have come to know bear their original, author-intended titles. For the Paris Review, Tony Tulathimutte pulls back the curtain on the process of book naming to reveal that the title we see is often not given by the author, but generated by a marketing team with a very particular set of conventions and concerns:

The history of writers fighting for their book titles is extensive and bloody; so powerful is the publisher’s veto that not even Toni Morrison, fresh off her Nobel win, got to keep her preferred title for Paradise, which was War.

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The Last Pilot

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Most writers have imagined the scene of their own death—in the hopes of stylizing the moment or savoring the thought of someone sifting through and publishing their old manuscripts. It seems that James Tate, even in death, outdid us all by leaving his earthly post in the most writerly way possible: with a delightful last poem stuck in his typewriter.

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Have Fish, Will Travel

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Italian novelist, essayist, and scholar Umberto Ecco passed away last Friday. The Paris Review has republished an essay by Ecco that originally appeared in its pages back in 1994. “Traveling with a Salmon” is about traveling with a salmon, but also about communication:

My recent journey was brief: one day in Stockholm and three in London.

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Ben Lerner’s First Time

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If you’re referring to a bomb as a daisy cutter it’s easier to distance yourself from the embodied reality of the consequence of a policy.

The Paris Review talks with Ben Lerner about his first book of poems, The Lichtenberg Figures: his first inspirations in Marjorie Welish and wine, the anxiety and self-doubt of the first book, and the violence of Topeka, Kansas.

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A Visual Guide for “How to Be Perfect”

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Count among your true friends people of various stations of life.
Do not exclaim, “Isn’t technology wonderful!”
Learn how to whistle at earsplitting volume.

Still hunting for a good New Year’s resolution? No worries! Over at the Paris Review, Rumpus illustrator Jason Novak has endeavored to help you out with some visual inspiration, taking a pen and a sketchpad to Ron Padgett’s poem “How to Be Perfect.”

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Displaced in the Grotesque

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O’Connor is so often remembered as a misanthropic homebody—but she was comforted by the idea of a God that gave preferential treatment to the most vulnerable among us.

For the Paris Review, Dave Griffith writes about reading Flannery O’Connor’s “The Displaced Person,” a story of immigrants in O’Connor’s classic grotesque South, during the global refugee crisis.

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Student and Teacher, Man and God

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At the Paris Review, H.S. Cross analyzes Ernest Raymond’s 1922 novel, Tell England. He explores the unique and charged relationships between a schoolteacher, Radley, and his students, Ray and Doe. The boys have an unexpected and, at least initially, seemingly erotic reverence for their teacher, which, Cross concludes, reflects the confusing and sacrificial relationship between man and God:

As surprising as it is to arrive at sacramental theology from Doe’s flamboyant disclosure, a metaphysical perspective provides the most coherent reading of Radley and Ray.

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The Rumpus Interview with Jenny Johnson

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Poet Jenny Johnson discusses her forthcoming debut collection, In Full Velvet, phobias, courage, the dual consciousness of queer lovers, and what it means to belong. ...more

Nancy Drew, Girl Detective and Mentally Unstable Shape-Shifter

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In her many faces, the detective has always been both infinite and infinitely replicable, a paper-doll chain folded easily into a single entity, or expanded accordion-style into a string of captivating almost-duplicates.

To become a top-rate teenage sleuth, you’ve got to prioritize: skip the movies and stick to the Morse Code manuals, no matter how nicely Ned Nickerson asks to take you to the drive-in.

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Ben Percy au photo [cr. Jennifer Percy]

The Rumpus Interview with Benjamin Percy

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Benjamin Percy discusses his latest novel, The Dead Lands, why it’s all about keeping language fresh, and his dream job writing for DC Comics. ...more

The Survival of Scripts

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Newspapers might be threatened by e-readers, technology may have supplanted books, and recipes can be found online in abundance. But scripts? Scripts are necessary. Scripts are tangible. They bow before no millennial’s avowedly shortened attention span.

The Paris Review argues that while everything else goes digital, scripts will always be in print.

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Moshfegh author phot credit Krystal Griffiths

The Rumpus Interview with Ottessa Moshfegh

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Ottessa Moshfegh discusses her first full-length novel, Eileen, betrayal, self-aware narrators, and the catalytic properties of friendship. ...more

Preserving Dostoevsky’s Prose

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What’s one English word to sarcastically communicate Russian cosmopolitan refinement? How would you translate a page-long sentence from Tolstoy, or “the cacophonous competing voices of Dostoevsky”?

Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear (who have been married for 33 years) have translated over 30 works from Russian to English, beloved by readers worldwide (including Oprah) and praised for communicating the idiosyncrasies and styles of the original works.

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Revenge Writing

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After about two years of writing essays, I learned about something I will hereby in these pages name the Passive-Aggressive Writer’s Conundrum: People, particularly non-writers, are an optimistic, delusional bunch. If you mention people in an unflattering way without naming them, they will never recognize themselves in your story— even if you name actual details of circumstances surrounding the stories.

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A Séance for Robert Browning

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The voice of the dead man was heard speaking… In breathless silence the little, awed group stood round the phonograph, [as] Robert Browning’s familiar and cheery voice suddenly exclaimed: “Ready?”

Poet Robert Browning may not have been able to remember all the words he wrote, but he does bear the distinction of the first literary figure to record his voice, in April 1889.

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