A Letter from the Editor
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 »
July 14, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
You’re probably still in bed, or finishing up a short story, but here in Paris it’s four o’clock; across the street from my hotel the bells of Nôtre Dame are playing “Three Blind Mice”; and I owe you an update from the Ville-Lumière.
It’s my first time here in years, since the indoor smoking ban in fact, but no sooner did I get through customs than I started craving a cigarette. I think it must be the strain of reading airport signs in French. This craving intensified in the taxi. By the time I got through breakfast at a tourist café on Saint Germain—jambon beurre, three cafés crèmes—it was time for a Gauloise Blonde and a nap.
My hosts at Shakespeare & Co. kindly booked me a room around the corner from the famous shop. Mine is the best room the Hotel Esmeralda has to offer, and one of the highest, smelling faintly but not unpleasantly of blow-dryer and dead mouse. It is five flights up. Reaching the top of the stairs, I dropped my bag, conked out, and dreamed of Robert Silvers: he had climbed up after me to inquire about an essay he had written on the early history of The Paris Review—an essay slated to run in our last issue, but it hadn’t.
This anxiety dream is easy to explain. You see, on the flight over I’d been reading a doctoral dissertation, Enterprise in the Service of Art: A Critical History of The Paris Review, 1953–1973, in preparation for my talk at the bookstore: “The Paris Review: Past, Present, Future.” I had taken plenty of notes, but nothing that added up to a talk.
May 16, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
Starting in July The Paris Review—and the Daily—will have a new senior editor: Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn. Deirdre comes to us from The New Yorker, where she is currrently an assistant editor and has worked with Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith, among other favorites of ours.
Deirdre will replace our founding web editor, Thessaly La Force, who—having shot like a dazzling meteor across our little sky—is leaving us for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where we trust she will blow their minds.
May 5, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
May 4, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
There had been different boys living at Lytle’s since not long after he lost his wife, maybe before—in any case it was a recognized if unofficial institution when I entered the college at seventeen. In former days these were mainly students whose writing showed promise, as judged by a certain well-loved, prematurely white-haired literature professor, himself a former protégé and all but a son during Lytle’s long widowerhood. As years passed and Lytle declined, the arrangement came to be more about making sure someone was there all the time, someone to drive him and chop wood for him and hear him if he were to break a hip.
There were enough of us who saw it as a privilege, especially among the English majors. We were students at the University of the South, and Lytle was the South, the last Agrarian, the last of the famous “Twelve Southerners” behind I’ll Take My Stand, a comrade to the Fugitive Poets, a friend since youth of Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren; a mentor to Flannery O’Connor and James Dickey and Harry Crews and, as the editor of The Sewanee Review in the sixties, one of the first to publish Cormac McCarthy’s fiction. Bear in mind that by the mid-nineties, when I knew him, the so-called Southern Renascence in letters had mostly dwindled to a tired professional regionalism. That Lytle hung on somehow, in however reduced a condition, represented a flaw in time, to be exploited.
April 15, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
Starting next month Jezebel fashion and arts correspondent Sadie Stein will join The Paris Review (and The Daily) as a contributing editor. Sadians stay tuned!