For many writers, after all, a word processor was as much an appliance as it was a deeply individualized instrument—more fax machine than fountain pen. … Still, the plastic, glass, and silicon devices had stories to tell, just as did the people pictured with them.
Posts Tagged: The Paris Review
Be unpredictable, including to yourself. So there’s the question of how do you go about finding things—or better their finding you? You have to be open to surprise and at the same time assiduous in pursuing the things you are really interested in.
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....more
Well, that’s the point of being alone—it’s not anything to do with you. It’s about being something in someone else’s life, and no one ever knows the difference, or the truth. That’s why people like bad movies and bad fiction, and it’s worth it, it’s worth it, it’s worth it.
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.
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....more
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.”...more
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.
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.
With a very few exceptions, everything in the book was written by someone in his or her 30s. Nowadays that seems to be the age at which many writers come into their own. The moment when they have something to say and the tools to say it.
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....more
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....more
Desert managed, impressively, to publish lively, intelligent writing about a very dry place, month after month.
Dan Piepenbring browsed through archive.org’s huge magazine collection to discover Desert, a publication from the Southwest entirely devoted to… deserts! You can read more and take a look at some of the magazine’s covers over at the Paris Review....more
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....more
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.
Over at the Paris Review, Brit Bennett profiles the role, or lack thereof, of black dolls among Americans today:
Of course, you can still buy racist dolls. Golliwogs—blackfaced rag dolls—are still sold in the United Kingdom; only in 2009 were they finally removed from a gift shop on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.
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....more
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.
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.