April 2, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
On the eve of celebrating our sixtieth birthday, The Paris Review is up for two National Magazine Awards: Fiction and General Excellence. Our fiction finalist is Sarah Frisch, whose story “Housebreaking” appeared in issue 203.
These nominations are the latest in a series of recent plaudits. Last month, we received seven nominations for the Pushcart Prize. We also had a story (“The Chair,” by David Means) chosen for The Best American Short Stories and an essay (“Human Snowball,” by Davy Rothbart) selected for the year’s Best Nonrequired Reading.
This week, New York magazine placed our new issue in the top quadrant of its famous, feared Approval Matrix, while Adam Sternbergh, blogging for the New York Times, called it “great … great … great.” He singles out “a great, long interview with Mark Leyner,” the Art of Fiction with “New York literary icon Deborah Eisenberg,” and “a great new poem from Frederick Seidel”; plus, “you’ll look great toting The Paris Review,” thanks, presumably, to our great cover.
March 5, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
What follows is the Editor’s Note from issue 204.
For the cover of our sixtieth-anniversary issue, we asked the French artist JR to make a giant poster of George Plimpton’s face and paste it up on a wall in Paris, as a symbolic homecoming and a tribute to the patrie. Posters are what JR does. In Vevey, Switzerland, he covered one entire side of a clock tower with Man Ray’s Femme aux cheveux longs. In Havana, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Cartagena, Spain, he plastered headshots of elderly residents—headshots many stories tall—across the facades of old buildings. He called the project “The Wrinkles of the City.” We love these pictures. We love the way they honor the desire behind any portrait—to eternalize a particular face—and at the same time welcome the wear and tear of weather, smog, graffiti: of life as it passes by.
It’s been ten years since George died in his sleep, after half a century at the helm of the Review. “George,” we say, even those members of the staff who never met him. He looms large in our imaginations—as large as that image gazing across the rue Alexandre Dumas—because he invented the form of the Review and gave it his spirit. “What we are doing that’s new,” he explained in a letter to his parents, “is presenting a literary quarterly in which the emphasis is more on fiction than on criticism, the bane of present quarterlies. Also we are brightening up the issue with artwork.” This from a man who was about to publish Samuel Beckett! George’s magazine was blithely serious and seriously blithe. Read More »
January 10, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
We are sad to learn that Evan Connell has died. An early contributor to The Paris Review, Connell was and is a quiet hero of contemporary literature. His novels Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge have been cited as a crucial influence by writers as different as Lydia Davis, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith. In his history books—Son of the Morning Star (about General Custer) and Deus Lo Volt! (about the Crusades)—his poems, and his essays, he sang the glories of lost civilizations and unearthed the ruins at our feet. Connell delighted in tales of folly, of doomed experiments, but his own experiments bore fruits, plural, for no two are alike. We regret that Connell was unable to finish his Art of Fiction interview for the magazine; stay tuned in the next few days for selections from his work as it appeared in The Paris Review.
January 7, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
If you grew up going to church, you already know Psalm 139. Even if you didn’t, parts of it are floating around your brain. It is a favorite of pro-life people, because it talks about God recognizing us in the womb, taking care of us, and knowing how we’ll turn out. (It is also—I’d bet money on this—the source of our hundred-year-old American expression “search me.”)
Psalm 139 gets my vote for being the most beautiful of the psalms in the King James version. The other day I happened to read it in French and it left me cold—it conjured up surveillance—whereas the high-low diction of the King James translators sings and is intimate, because you would only sing this way to a God you loved: “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me.” It’s like an advertisement for the English language. Read More »
November 26, 2012 | by Lorin Stein
As we have now and then had occasion to point out, Daily editor Sadie Stein and I are not married. Nor is either one of us a parent. But that won’t stop us from competing for your love. Tomorrow at seven:
Join Sadie and Doree Shafrir at KGB Bar for an evening of true-life storytelling.
Join me at 192 Books for a live interview with the poet and novelist Ben Lerner, author of Leaving the Atocha Station.
You can’t do both, but we hope you’ll do one!
August 10, 2012 | by Lorin Stein
We are sad to learn of the death of David Rakoff, at forty-seven, after a long battle with cancer. Rakoff’s essays and contributions to This American Life include what must be the most melancholy humor writing of our time, or else the funniest melancholy writing. Even at his most arch, Rakoff wrote with an undertone of kindness that made his fans love him. Many of his readers will feel that they have lost a friend.