Tag Archives: the Paris Review

INTERVIEW WITH WRITER SUSAN SONTAG! (PARIS REVIEW)

BY EDWARD HIRSCH VIA THE PARIS REVIEW

Susan Sontag lives in a sparsely furnished five-room apartment on the top floor of a building in Chelsea on the west side of Manhattan. Books—as many as fifteen thousand—and papers are everywhere. A lifetime could be spent browsing through the books on art and architecture, theater and dance, philosophy and psychiatry, the history of medicine, and the history of religion, photography, and opera—and so on. The various European literatures—French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, etcetera, as well as hundreds of books of Japanese literature and books on Japan—are arranged by language in a loosely chronological way. So is American literature as well as English literature, which runs from Beowulf to, say, James Fenton. Sontag is an inveterate clipper, and the books are filled with scraps of paper (“Each book is marked and filleted,” she says), the bookcases festooned with notes scrawled with the names of additional things to read.

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DOSTOYEVSKY’S EMPATHY! (THE PARIS REVIEW)

BY LAURIE SHECK VIA THE PARIS REVIEW

 A WOODCUT BY FRITZ EICHENBERG FOR THE IDIOT, CA. 1940S.

A Few Facts   He wore five-pound shackles on his ankles every day for four years. This was in the prison camp in Omsk where he was serving out a sentence of hard labor after being convicted of sedition for being part of a revolutionary cell dedicated to the liberation of the serfs and freedom of the press.

For the seven months following his arrest, he’d been kept in solitary confinement in the Peter and Paul Fortress on the Neva, his cell window smeared with an oily paste to prevent any daylight from seeping through.

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BRUSHES WITH GREATNESS: THE IMMUTABLE LAWS OF STARFUCKERY! (PARIS REVIEW)

BY NAOMI FRY VIA PARIS REVIEW

Painting by Lucien Rudaux, ca. 1920–30.

In Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s oral history of punk, Please Kill Me, the ’70s LA groupie Sable Starr recounts the excitement she felt the first time she slept with David Bowie:

Upstairs at the Rainbow they have just like one table. Me and David were sitting there, with a couple of other people. And to have all your friends look up and see you—that was cool. That was really cool … Back in the hotel we were sitting around. I had to go to the bathroom, and David came in and he had a cigarette in his hand and a glass of wine. And he started kissing me—and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me, because there had been Roxy Music and J. Geils, but David Bowie was the first heavy. So we went to the bedroom and fucked for hours, and he was great … I became very famous and popular after that because it was established that I was cool. I had been accepted by a real rock star.

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MAYA ANGELOU’S 1990 INTERVIEW WITH THE PARIS REVIEW

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This interview was conducted on the stage of the YMHA on Manhattan’s upper East Side. A large audience, predominantly women, was on hand, filling indeed every seat, with standees in the back . . . a testament to Maya Angelou’s drawingpower. Close to the stage was a small contingent of black women dressed in the white robes of the Black Muslim order. Her presence dominated the proceedings. Many of her remarks drew fervid applause, especially those which reflected her views on racial problems, the need to persevere, and “courage.” She is an extraordinary performer and has a powerful stage presence. Many of the answers seemed as much directed to the audience as to the interviewer so that when Maya Angelou concluded the evening by reading aloud from her work—again to a rapt audience—it seemed a logical extension of a planned entertainment.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH GROVE PRESS OWNER BARNEY ROSSET

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I didn’t know much about that {Lady Chatterley’s Lover}, and actually it didn’t interest me that much—only in terms of how it might help us to publish Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. It seemed to me that D. H. Lawrence was a more respected figure than Miller, that he had a higher hit on the ratings scale, so he would be easier to present as “literature” in the courts.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH RUSSELL BANKS ON THE ART OF FICTION, 1998

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“Kerouac was very important to me for a lot of reasons, though not necessarily for the reasons that he was inspiring to other folks. But for a working-class New England kid who was for the most part an autodidact, reading Jack Kerouac, a writer of clear significance, was very liberating—liberating both in literary terms and in sexual terms, as well as in social behavior. He gave me another way to think and walk—validated my life so far and my hopes for that life.”

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