The interview was conducted over the course of multiple sessions during a cold, hot January dusk at the Paris Review office in New York City. The Paris Review insisted on revising several drafts of the interview before it went to print. The publication had a peculiar way of speaking as it spoke.


                                                            The Paris Review
You yourself are famous for giving interviews. Maybe you’d like to start with some insight about that.


                                                            The Paris Review
If you’re stuck, you ask, Who’s writing do you hold in high esteem?

                                                            The Paris Review

Here’s the names of two people whose work I actually respect, one person who I begrudgingly mention who I know is better than me, a couple of people whose names I’m obligated to mention for purposes of making nice with contemporary critics, a friend with whom I have an unspoken pact to always mention when asked these types of questions, a woman of color if you’re lucky, and one guy I fooled around with in college who I still feel like I kind of owe something. And Joyce.

                                                            The Paris Review

Do you think the novel is dead?

                                                            The Paris Review

Other novels are dead, but not the novels I publish.

                                                            The Paris Review

But you only publish short stories and excerpts.

                                                            The Paris Review

Exactly.

                                                            The Paris Review,

You spent some time in England. What was that like for you?

                                                            The Paris Review

Rainy. Well, things are done differently there. By there, I mean not here. By differently, I mean, it’s Europeesque. Not New York. But neither is the creative writing program I teach at in [INSERT PROVINCIAL STATE CAPITAL HERE].

                                                            The Paris Review

Do you believe writing can be taught?

                                                            The Paris Review

Obviously you know the answer to that question – I give so many interviews about craft. I am from the old guard. Well, anyway, it pays the bills. What we are really doing is training a generation of readers, not writers. Just don’t tell the people at [INSERT PROVINCIAL STATE CAPITAL HERE] University that I said it.

                                                            The Paris Review

But they’ll read it when this goes to print.

                                                            The Paris Review

Will they?

                                                            The Paris Review

Probably not. The students at [INSERT PROVINCIAL STATE CAPITAL HERE] don’t read print journals.

                                                            The Paris Review

How would you describe your own prose style?

                                                            The Paris Review

Kafkaesque.

                                                            The Paris Review

Are you Franz Kafka?

                                                            The Paris Review

Yes.

                                                            The Paris Review

Critics have accused you of being [NONDESCRIPT ADJECTIVE]. What do you say to them?

                                                            The Paris Review

I don’t read my reviews.

                                                            The Paris Review

Okay. Well I think they feel you’re being too out there. Or, the other way around, you’re too, well, in here.

                                                            The Paris Review

You mean I’m [OTHER NONDESCRIPT ADJECTIVE]?

                                                            The Paris Review

Something like that.

                                                            The Paris Review

Nobody’s perfect.

                                                            The Paris Review

We often hear the story about your childhood when your [RELATIVE] told you that [SOMETHING] and then abandoned you. Did this have an impact on you writing?

                                                            The Paris Review

Certainly it did, but so does anytime a [RELATIVE] tells you [SOMETHING] and abandons you.

                                                            The Paris Review

Do you think books as we know them are dying?


                                                            The Paris Review

Real people want real books. I leave the E-books to the E-people.


                                                            The Paris Review

Would you say that Proust is inside you?

                                                            The Paris Review

I think it’s safe to say that Proust and Joyce are inside me at a 5:2 ratio. Cynthia Ozick. Lowell.

                                                            The Paris Review

And you met Ezra Pound, briefly, in Europe…

                                                            The Paris Review

Iowa, Iowa. Princeton. Sentences. James Wood. The New Yorker. The Kenyon Review? Harold Bloom. Iowa. Wasteland. John Berryman. Exciting minority writers. Science Fiction. Iowa & Confessional memoir. Dostoevsky. The Adventures of Augie March. Mommy. Mary Karr! Pound?

                                                            The Paris Review

Oh, well Ezzy was a good chap. He just gets a bad rap for being a fascist. You know what Pound used to say? He’d say, “But really, isn’t there a little Nazi inside every poet?”

                                                            The Paris Review

Yes, I did know he used to say that. But didn’t he mean that there was a small person, maybe 11 inches tall, who was a member of the Nazi party swimming in your colon?

The Paris Review sprung from his armchair, left the room and the apartment for forty-five minutes. While he was out, The Paris Review examined his study until he discovered his stash of Percocet. The Paris Review returned with two bottles of California white wine and a bucket of KFC.

                                                            The Paris Review

Do you think readers shall judge me for consuming this?

                                                            The Paris Review
It’s not the Loire valley, but California produces respected wines.


                                                            The Paris Review
Now is the part where I tell a story of how my life has changed over time, or some sentimental anecdote from my childhood. Thing is, most people don’t purposely end interviews with their most memorable yarn-spinning, so surely The Paris Review has taken this section of the interview out of order. As though I’m finally opening up, and on this cold, hot January dusk, all these questions have penetrated my defensive wall and I reveal the secret to my craft, that moment I knew I was a writer, until The Paris Review stares at me for the last time before standing up to go in such a way that I will never forget the look on his face for the rest of my life and at last I realize [EPIPHANY].

You Might Also Enjoy

Do You Enter The Cave? Make For the Plane? The Art of Choose Your Own Adventure No. 3

Dada is the Sun! Dada is the egg! The Art of Dada No. .

What We Talk About When We Talk About Workshops. The Art of Ripping off Carver, “No.” she said.

Pin It on Pinterest