Reading Week 5: Excerpt from Paris Review Anthology 1



This interview compared to the Louise Bourgeoise is overly calculated. It seems stale to me. When reading the introduction, though, it mentions that these interviews went through intense editing. Even the interviewed were given a chance to edit their comments before it would be printed. I have mixed feelings about this. I don't feel like I get a feeling for there personality of Didion really, or perhaps it is just that Louise's personality is much stronger and comes through better in an interview.

I would tend to agree, I didn't find this interview particularly exciting or moving. Especially when compared to my expectations after reading the intro. Perhaps all the editing did take the life out of it, or perhaps you need to be more familiar with Didion's work to get the most out of it.

I appreciated the magazines intention not to smother the literature under the weight of learned chatter. That could be part of our statement writing manifesto.

"The Paris Review's purpose is not to catch the writer off guard, but to elicit from them the fullest possible reckoning of what interests them most - their lives and work as writers . . ."

I appreciate how they aim to capture the real thoughts of the interviewed subject, and not just the particular wording they used the first time they said it out loud. It may not pass scrutiny from a journalistic standpoint, but it also isn't pretending to be journalism. I've been interviewed in person and over the phone, but I always prefer by email. I admit to being a chronic editor, but this is the way the answer is the most complete and honest it can be. Some people can generate these thoughts eloquently on the fly, but others need to restate and clarify. I would rather read a person's true beliefs than something they blurted.

I agree with Beth that it's more interesting to read someone's true beliefs, but it was hard to glean anything from this interview that wasn't purely factual, or just a superficial reflection of the factual. I'm not sure if Didion was exhausted, or is a bit reserved about being interviewed (perhaps understandably, as she is frequently an interviewer,) or if her counterpart just didn't manage to grab onto the interesting bits and pull them out of her. Whatever the reason, it fell flat.

I was intrigued as she described how "novels are about the things you can't deal with," which, in spite of its flatness, gave the piece a powerful ending for me. How does artmaking ferret out the emotions or conflict we're unable to confront directly?

I felt that the bulk of this was specific personal information a friend or family member may be interested in hearing, but not me. Maybe if I was familiar with her work I would have gotten more out of this, as Will said. It was like this time line of how many times she moved and decided whether or not to start a new novel. If an interview of someone I've never heard of is successful, it should make me want to find out more about them. This really didn't.

Leave a comment