March 5, 2014 | by Ann Beattie
The sounds of Key West.
What do writers want? (Forget whether they’re women or men, Uncle Sigmund. Forget money and fame.) They want quiet. Where do they go? They gather in Key West, Florida.
Sure, the subtlest sounds—the personally groaned sounds—begin with deep sighs, as other people discuss pools being dredged by the jackhammering of coral next door, leaf blowers switched on at eight a.m., drunks on the sidewalk talking to themselves even more animatedly as the police car pulls to the curb. Last night I hung over my balcony to hear a staggering gentleman informing the officer that he did have a destination. He was “gonna shuffle off to Buffalo.”
In the background, birds express opinions from people’s shoulders on late-night walks (“Pretty but what else?”—a bird clearly meant to call one’s life into question). All around the island cell phones go off, their ring tones arias from operas or a hip-hop version of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Dogs bark, cats hiss, and the bird on the shoulder of the guy in the trilby continues to wonder aloud what to expect after “pretty.” Maybe the fire truck, or the ambulance that makes just a few high-pitched noises, as if the vehicle itself is dying. As it races away, it’s sure to set off a car alarm. Read More »
November 4, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
On this day in 1899, Die Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams) was first published. Sales were initially dismal, but the rest, of course, is psychoanalytical history. In honor of its birthday, we bring you the only known audio recording of Sigmund Freud, made by the BBC near the end of his life, in Hampstead, London.
August 30, 2013 | by Hailey Gates
At our last issue launch party, Frederick Seidel, looking over a throng of people, turned to me and asked, “What do you make of all this?” There were summer thunderstorms that night, which kept people from going home and in turn encouraged a sort of athletic drinking.
Before I could answer him (not that I would have even had the gall to answer), a stranger embraced me in a very sudden, shapeless goodbye.
I turned back to Mr. Seidel, who scoffed, “There you go like all the ‘other girls,’ sticking your butt out as you hug a poor fellow, god forbid your pelvises touch!”
“But that’s what I make of it, Seidel! All of my goodbyes are hinged at the waist.”
Strangely enough, Frederick Seidel is what brought me to The Paris Review. I was asked to do a reading of his poems in honor of Bastille Day, which I am sure he found too crass of an idea to actually attend. I was told it would be a “big deal” because they were all “debuts,” as Seidel never reads his poetry out loud.
Of course, I reveled in the bawdy reality of a young girl reading the poems of Fred Seidel. I still do. This may seem like I am campaigning to become Frederick Seidel’s exclusive reader; make no mistake, that is exactly what I am doing. So here I am, Fred, hinging at the waist, bawdily reading your poem. What do you make of all of that?
August 9, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
In the first three years that I edited The Paris Review—a reader pointed out last spring—we never published a short story from a child’s point of view. This wasn’t a matter of principle. I just like stories in which the narrator knows as much as possible. I like to see a writer stretch to represent a consciousness as big, as clued-in, as grown-up as the reader’s own mind. What’s called dramatic irony—where the writer and reader sort of conspire together over the narrator’s head—doesn’t interest me. Except every once in a while, when it does.
From the first sentence of “Marion”—“Cars the color of melons and tangerines sizzled in cul-de-sac driveways”—Emma Cline takes us inside the thoughts of an eleven-year-old girl who does not always understand the adults around her, or the sexual desires of her older best friend, but who intensely feels their heat. The language is so vivid, Cline registers her confusion so exactly, that she creates the same confusion in the reader. Part of us knows what’s going on between these girls, part of us is lost and needs the story to take us by the hand. Which it brilliantly does, as you will hear in this excerpt read by Cline herself.
Read the full story in our Summer 2013 issue.
July 26, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
This essay may sound strange, read by a man—it is very specifically a woman’s essay. But Dombek’s voice is so powerful, every time I read “Letter from Williamsburg,” I hear it in my head. It’s like a song I want to sing along to. In fact, I remember reading the first two paragraphs to our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, over the phone, before the rest of the essay was written. I wanted him to hear how beautifully Dombek modulates her tone from the sublime to the mundane. I only wish I could do justice to the music on the page.
Read the full essay in our Summer 2013 issue.
July 16, 2013 | by Nikkitha Bakshani
I am partial to sentences with this framework: “There are two kinds of [ ]: those who [ ], and those who [ ].” The setup should, ideally, involve a chiasmus or double entendre or any florid rhetorical device that offsets the blatant generalization being made. The best of such sentences are aware of their blatant generalizations but strive for truth anyway, recklessly. That’s the last line of this recording. Stonecipher’s syntactical attempt to polarize the past and future sinks as it tries to swim, for she—or the general truth of life—has already convinced us that the past, present, and future are in flux.
Read the full poem in our Summer 2013 issue.