Voltaire became steeped in the country’s rules of criminal procedure, a labyrinth he found appalling: “As there are half-proofs, that is to say, half-truths, it is clear that there are half-innocent and half-guilty persons. So we start by giving them a half-death, after which we go to lunch.” He fretted at how France appeared to other nations—“Do they not say that we know how to break a man on the wheel but do not know how to fight?”—and steamed at the judicial system’s secrecy, which allowed Toulouse’s Parlement to keep to itself the evidence used to convict.
Posts Tagged: The Paris Review
Leave it to The Toast to give us a story told by a mermaid as opposed to a story about one. And leave it to The Toast to find a very good mermaid storyteller indeed. On Wednesday, they released “Mermaids at the End of the Universe: A Short Story” by Kendra Fortmeyer, featuring illustrations by Stephanie Monohan....more
He dearly yearns for Harriot as his mistress: “Shall we not,” he asks her, “obey the dictates of nature, rather than confine ourselves to the forced, unnatural rules of—and—and shall the halcyon days of youth slip through our fingers unenjoyed?” (Actually, Harrington says all of this with “the language of the eyes.” Early Americans excelled, you see, at conducting complicated conversations using only their peepers.)
The Paris Review examines The Power of Sympathy: or, the Triumph of Nature, a 226-year-old sentimental book widely considered to be the first American novel....more
In the wake of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, Dan Piepenbring waxes poetic on R&B groups, the state of the genre, and how, when it comes down to it, the swinging feel of a swinging chorus is all but irreplaceable:
Not that you have to be a music scholar to enjoy the sound of people singing together.
With the Canadian publication Descant announcing it will come to an end this month, Juan Vidal reflects on the state of literary magazines for NPR....more
My heart pounded and my breath choked in my windpipe. I had stumbled on an accidental mention of a totally unfamiliar race. Obviously non-Terrestrial. Yet, to the characters in the book, it was perfectly natural—which suggested they belonged to the same species.
The latest release from Gauss PDF, Marcel Duchamp’s The [Creative] Act, turns the Dada mastermind’s short lecture into a madlib-like text, rife with lacunae for reader participation and the sort of “No Image Available” error messages that indicate image errors online....more
Nell Zink’s debut novel, The Wallcreeper, offers a dark coming-of-age story of a married woman not all that dissimilar from Zink herself. Zink has lived a global lifestyle, picking up and moving to various cities on a whim. Matthew Jakubowski spoke with Zink over at the Paris Review:
I was a very excitable waitress, but management valued me for my strange talent of taking drink specials seriously.
In honor of Joseph Conrad’s birthday on December 3, the Paris Review blog posted Conrad’s author’s note to The Shadow Line, which ruminates on marvels and mysteries....more
Why would a writer elicit that kind of hatred? What kind of threat did he pose? I asked my dad if I could borrow a copy of Ulysses, went to my room and began to read. An hour later I came back downstairs.
Holding it in your hand now, we hope it feels familiar and warm, at once reminding you of the great history of The Review, while also giving you a sense that you’re being handed the very future of writing and art.
Thomas Pynchon is a reclusive author—or so we are told. Vice unearths the origins of Pynchon’s famous isolation, attributing the legend to the Paris Review‘s George Plimpton:
It all started 51 years ago, in 1963, when George Plimpton in the New York Times published the line: “Pynchon is in his early twenties; he writes in Mexico City—a recluse.” It is doubtful if Plimpton, who helped create the Paris Review, knew at the time that he was accidentally kicking off the largest and longest game of Where’s Waldo?
On Tuesday, Guernica published “Walking on Water,” an excerpt from Payem Faeli’s 2010 novella, I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit… Figs. In this excerpt, translated into English by Sarah Khalili, Faeli provides a meditative taste of the novella’s wandering narrator, a young boy in search of a name....more
Dan Piepenbring has had a bee in his bonnet about the spam comments they get over at the Paris Review Daily—”they’re by turns,” he says, “ludic, cryptic, disquieting, emotional, and inadvertently profound”—so fascinating, in fact, that he has kept a working list of his favorite ones....more
If a novel depicted house sitters’ lives, its scenes would depict the complex relationship between the homeowner and sitter, the way trust is built between strangers in such an intimate setting as a home: how house keys are swapped, free food is provided or withheld.
Before life on the iPad keypad there was life on the QWERTY computer keypad, and before that, the architecture of the typewriter. Dan Piepenbring reports on the history of the typewriter which was, ah yes, “rife with collaboration, ingenuity, betrayal, setbacks, lucre, acrimony, misguided experimentation, and bickering white men.”...more
In an interview with Jonathan Lee at The Paris Review, Joshua Ferris addresses why his new novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, “starts from the question of whether there’s a kind of private language and intimacy to religion that the mutt-y white guys like [him] are missing out on.” More personally, he worries, too, if “as a writer there’s something [he] missed out on” not growing up with a religious sensibility:
… religion offers a writer a tradition both to be nurtured in and to fight against, and that nurturing and that conflict can produce great literature.
Besotted by over-saturated news feeds, sometimes, you may just want to read vignettes about the more precocious members of the egg family; for this, we have Sadie Stein. Three Stories about Deviled Eggs, over at the Paris Review:
Life had changed; suddenly deviled eggs were everywhere—at tapas bars, in sepia-toned Brooklyn whiskey joints.
Ever droll, Sadie Stein writes in the Paris Review about the reaction we’re (all) prone to have when people recommend literature based on our professed likes and dislikes:
When someone says I will like something, I tend to assume the something in question will be precious, tedious, and often aggressively eccentric.
Amy Hempel started writing fiction in her late twenties when she took a workshop with Gordon Lish at Columbia; she stayed in this workshop as a student for years. In an interview with The Paris Review, Hempel recalls her first class meeting with Lish: students were asked to write their worst secret....more
In 1963, a high-schooler named Bruce McAllister decided he would prove to his English teacher once and for all that the symbols she was asking students to find in books like The Scarlet Letter were not actually put there on purpose by authors....more