Synopses & Reviews
A Picador Paperback Original
How do great writers do it? From James M. Cain's hard-nosed observation that "writing a novel is like working on foreign policy. There are problems to be solved. It's not all inspirational," to Joan Didion's account of how she composes a book--"I constantly retype my own sentences. Every day I go back to page one and just retype what I have. It gets me into a rhythm"--The Paris Review has elicited some of the most revelatory and revealing thoughts from the literary masters of our age. For more than half a century, the magazine has spoken with most of our leading novelists, poets, and playwrights, and the interviews themselves have come to be recognized as classic works of literature, an essential and definitive record of the writing life. They have won the coveted George Polk Award and have been a contender for the Pulitzer Prize. Now, Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch introduces an entirely original selection of sixteen of the most celebrated interviews. Often startling, always engaging, these encounters contain an immense scope of intelligence, personality, experience, and wit from the likes of Elizabeth Bishop, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Rebecca West, and Billy Wilder. This is an indispensable book for all writers and readers.
"You won't be able to get their rueful, witty, snappish, and thoughtful voices out of your head...these sixteen exceptional slices of literary history belong in the form the interviewees devoted their lives to, namely a finely made book, always at hand, always compelling." Booklist
"Read The Paris Review Interviews, I, not only to learn something about writing from the 16 authors questioned but also for Ernest Hemingway's satisfying dismissals of interviewer George Plimpton: 'The fact that I am interrupting serious work to answer these questions proves that I am so stupid that I should be penalized severely.'" Esquire
"The Paris Review Interviews, I, the first of three collections to be culled from more than 50 years of this premier literary journal's quarterly offerings, presents a set of groundbreaking, eclectic, indispensable Q&As with such masters as Elizabeth Bishop, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and Joan Didion..." Elle
"At their best, the Paris Review interviews remove the veils of literary personae to reveal the flesh-and-blood writer at the source. By exposing the inner workings of writing, they place the reader in the driver's seat of literature." Billy Collins
"The Paris Review interviews are objects of wonder that formed my first and fiercest impression of what it was to be an author. I still ascribe any vivid remembered quote to their pages, even when it didn't appear there." Jonathan Lethem
"The Paris Review interviews have the best questions, the best answers, and are, hands down, the best way to steal a look into the minds of the best writers (and interviewers) in the world. Reading them together is like getting an fabulous guided tour through literary life." Susan Orlean
"I have been fascinated by the Paris Review interviews for as long as I can remember. Taken together, they form perhaps the finest available inquiry into the 'how' of literature, in many ways a more interesting question than the 'why.'" Salman Rushdie
"A colossal literary event worth the price of admission for the Borges interview alone, and of course the Billy Wilder, and the Vonnegut, and and and and....Just buy this book and read it all." Gary Shteyngart
"There are so many potential points of entry to The Paris Review Interviews, Vol. 1 this jewel box of a collection of in-depth chats on the craft of writingthat one hardly knows where to begin.... [The] candid comments... are well worth the price of admission.... [An] indispensable collection." San Francisco Chronicle
"We're holding out for a guy who has The Paris Review Interviewson his bookshelf. The revered literary journal showcases its best interviews with some of the most talented writers ever, from Joan Didion and Truman Capote to Dorothy Parker and Kurt Vonnegut perfect if youre a writer or a wannabe, or if you just feel the need to redeem yourself for all those nights spent watching The Hills." Jane
"Utterly absorbing.... They are all fascinating and often quite funny." Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe
"The Paris Review books should be given out at dinner parties, readings, riots, weddings, galas -- shindigs of every shape. And they're perfect for the classroom too, from high schools all the way to MFA programs. In fact, I run a whole semester-long creative writing class based on the interviews. How else would I get the world's greatest living writers, living and dead, to come into the classroom with their words of wisdom, folly and fury? These books are wonderful, provocative, indispensible."--Colum McCann, novelist and Hunter College professor"I have all the copies of The Paris Review and like the interviews very much. They will make a good book when collected and that will be very good for the Review."--Ernest Hemingway
"At their best, the Paris Review interviews remove the veils of literary personae to reveal the flesh-and-blood writer at the source. By exposing the inner workings of writing, they place the reader in the driver's seat of literature."--Billy Collins
"A colossal literary event--worth the price of admission for the Borges interview alone, and of course the Billy Wilder, and the Vonnegut, and and and and . . . Just buy this book and read it all."--Gary Shteyngart
"The Paris Review interviews have the best questions, the best answers, and are, hands down, the best way to steal a look into the minds of the best writers (and interviewers) in the world. Reading them together is like getting a fabulous guided tour through literary life."--Susan Orlean
"The Paris Review interviews are of course a genre unto themselves. We read them hoping the subjects will somehow betray themselves and pass their secrets for writing on to us. Although this never happens, the interviews bring us a little closer to understanding genius. This stellar collection of them is as good a place as any to start."--John Ashbery
"I have been fascinated by the Paris Review interviews for as long as I can remember. Taken together, they form perhaps the finest available inquiry into the 'how' of literature, in many ways a more interesting question than the 'why.'"--Salman Rushdie
"The Paris Review's Writers at Work series is thrilling and terrifying, in part because the writers in the interviews are not technically at work. But nonetheless! here are their wise secrets, their funny stories, their habits, dubious opinions, financial complaints--these glimpses comprise an engaging and important literary record."--Lorrie Moore
"Nothing is lonelier or riskier than being a writer, and these interviews provide writers at all stages the companionship and guidance they need."--Edmund White
"The Paris Review interviews have always provided the best look into the minds and work ethics of great writers and when read together constitute the closest thing to an MFA that you can get while sitting alone on your couch. Every page of this collection affords a ludicrous amount of pleasure."--Dave Eggers
"The Paris Review interviews are objects of wonder that formed my first and fiercest impression of what it was to be an author. I still ascribe any vivid remembered quote to their pages, even when it didn't appear there."--Jonathan Lethem
"The Paris Review is one of the few truly essential literary magazines of the twentieth century--and now of the twenty-first."--Margaret Atwood
From William Faulkner's famous reply, "The writer's only responsibility is to his art," to James Salter's confession "What is the ultimate impulse to write? Because all this is going to vanish" The Paris Review has elicited many of the most arresting, illuminating, and revealing discussions of life and craft from the greatest writers of our age. Under its original editor, George Plimpton, The Paris Review is credited with inventing the modern literary interview, and more than half a century later the magazine remains the master of the form. By turns intimate, instructive, gossipy, curmudgeonly, elegant, hilarious, cunning, and consoling, The Paris Review interviews have come to be celebrated as classic literary works in their own right. Now, from the treasure trove of the archives, Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch has selected twenty of the most essential interviews for the first of a three volume set. Here are Ernest Hemmingway, Truman Capote, Elizabeth Bishop, and many other novelists, poets, playwrights, memoirists speaking for the ages, with surprising candor, about all that matters most to them.
The first in a proposed three-volume set, a fascinating compilation of twenty interviews with some of the world's leading authors, poets, novelists, playwrights, and memoirists features candid, insightful dialogues with Philip Roth, Truman Capote, Elizabeth Bishop, William Faulkner, and other notables. Original. 35,000 first printing.
By turns intimate, instructive, gossipy, curmudgeonly, elegant, hilarious, cunning, and consoling, the "Paris Review" interviews have come to be celebrated as classic literary works in their own right. Now, from the treasure trove of the archives, editor Philip Gourevitch has selected 20 of the most essential interviews for the first of a three volume set. 448 p.
About the Author
The Paris Review
was founded in 1953 and has published early and important work by Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, Jeffrey Eugenides, A. S. Byatt, T. C. Boyle, William T. Vollmann, and many other writers who have given us the great literature of the past half century. Some of the magazine's greatest hits have been collected by Picador in The Paris Review Book of People with Problems
as well as The Paris Review Book for Planes, Trains, Elevators, and Waiting Rooms
and The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, the Art of Writing, and Everything Else in the World Since 1953
In March 2005, Philip Gourevitch was named editor of The Paris Review, succeeding the late George Plimpton. Gourevitch is also a long-time staff writer at the New Yorker, where he has reported extensively from Africa, Asia, and Europe, and from around the United States, notably during the 2004 presidential election. He is the author of two books: A Cold Case, and We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, a New York Times bestseller, earned numerous awards and honors, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a George Polk Book Award and, in Britain, the Guardian First Book Award. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Philip Gourevitch Dorothy Parker (1956)Truman Capote (1957)Ernest Hemingway (1958)T. S. Eliot (1959)Saul Bellow (1966)Jorge Luis Borges (1967)Kurt Vonnegut (1977)James M. Cain (1978)Rebecca West (1981)Elizabeth Bishop (1981)Robert Stone (1985)Robert Gottlieb (1994)Richard Price (1996)Billy Wilder (1996)Jack Gilbert (2005)Joan Didion (2006) ContributorsAcknowledgments