Wednesday 6 February 2008

Quote Unquote

I have exercised will power and enjoyed the delights of delayed gratification (something each generation always appears to believe the next wholly ignore) - ever since Lynne mentioned The Paris Review Interviews on her dovegreyreader blog, I've hankered after them. Not just because they are absolutely gorgeous (though that they indisputably are - those colours) but because they are a wonderful resource. I was finally able to use my Christmas book tokens, from kindly relative (somehow, not sure quite which) Mrs. Lucy Sherbourne. She has sent book tokens for birthday and Christmas all through my life, and is much to be treasured for it.

In these two volumes (apparently four are planned) are interviews with the great and good of the writing world, collected from decades of The Paris Review. A shame it didn't start earlier, and get even more authors, but there are still a good group - including Dorothy P
arke, T.S. Eliot, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Rebecca West, Eudora Welty, Graham Greene, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Philip Larkin, Stephen King, Harold Bloon, Alice Munro, Peter Carey... an eclectic crowd, but a doubtless insightful glimpse into the writing processes of these varied authors. The interviews are produced in their rough forms - i.e. question/answer, no noticeable editing. All to the good - it will feel like sitting alongside them. I haven't read any interviews in their entirety yet, but may start tonight...

What really does make these books is their design - something so cheerful, but also bohemian -
a little hint of fin de siecle against Art Deco and, oh, more or less everything arty all rolled into something simple and happy. I managed to find the designer's blog here.

This is a bit like those questions Smash Hits were famous for asking their interviewees, but - if you could interview any author, who would it be? And what would you ask? One question - think about it.

Mine would be for Jane Austen: "Please rank your heroines in the order you like them". Not very intellectual, true, but I always wonder...

Oh, and for those keeping track, driving lesson went well! Just in a car park, but felt very strange to actually be moving the car... and only stalled once.


  1. I've read volume 1 of these interviews and really enjoyed them. The only thing is I now have a vastly expanded reading list thanks to some really fine interviews with Rebecca West, Truman Capote, Jorge Luis Borges and company. I'm looking forward to buying volume 2 when I next go book shopping.

  2. I like the idea of asking an author a question and have risen to the challenge on my own blog:

  3. Jane Austen gave Elizabeth Bennet the richest husband. Proof?

  4. My library gets these--I'll have to go in search of them (my office is as far away from the periodicals as you can get--opposite floors and opposite ends of the building!). As for JA--maybe Anne Elliot? She gave her happiness at the ripe age of 27! Of course maybe I'm thinking of 'my' favorite heroine.


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