I just read in the New York Times about the Paris Review. The very best author interviews from the magazine’s archives are now readily available online, writes Laura Miller. With a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, the magazine began putting its 51 years of interviews online.
“Most readers will probably turn to the interviews with writers they already admire and leave the rest alone,” writes Miller, “but it’s often while wandering amid the less familiar that you stumble on treasure. It might be Lawrence Durrell comparing writing a poem to ”trying to catch a lizard without its tail falling off,” or this very shrewd assessment, from Frank O’Connor, of the shortcomings of those who try to imitate Chekhov by constructing a story ”without episodic interest.” The pitfall lies in forgetting ”that Chekhov had a long career as a journalist, as a writer for comic magazines, writing squibs, writing vaudevilles, and he had learned the art very, very early of maintaining interest, of creating a bony structure. It’s only concealed in the later work. They think they can do without that bony structure, but they’re all wrong.”
I like this quote from Richard Ford in 1996: â€œOnce Tobias Wolff and I gave a reading out in North Dakota, and a man came up to tell us he read our books during his lunch breaks, sitting on his tractor out in the wheat fields.â€