It’s not the first time I’ve checked out this volume of The Paris Review Interviews. I doubt it will be the last. I think I’ll buy my own copy so I don’t wear out the library’s.
The interviews are fine literature on their own. They’re mixed and edited and laid back down in an interview Q&A format to create a good story. It’s how I imagine that I’d like to do interviews—although I don’t know if that feeling came before or after being exposed to these. I think Cal Fussman does a fine thing with interviews in Esquire also: “What I’ve Learned“. I suspect the average person would want to have an interview to be more like a transcript—sometimes I also want that, when I want the information as it was stated, like traceable bits of data for reference—but there are other truths in the material that can be only be found through refinement, like metal from an ore.
Anyway, I suspect I’ll be posting some lines from the interviews here as I encounter them. They’re too good to keep to myself.
From end of the introduction by Philip Gourevitch:
There is hardly a more enjoyable way to spend one’s time, when not writing, than in the company of so much sheer intelligence demanding the best of itself.
From “Dorothy Parker, The Art of Fiction No. 13” (Summer 1956):
As for me, I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money. I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.
There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.