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Posts Tagged ‘Aleksandar Hemon’

In Conversation

November 5, 2013 | by

NotebookandPenlarge

Seven years ago I was walking up Fifth Avenue with David Foster Wallace. He wanted to know what I thought of The Names. That one’s the key, he said, speaking of Don DeLillo’s work like it was a safe which contained its own code. It was hat-and-glove weather. Wallace wore a purple sweatshirt. Where did I get my coat? he asked. That’s a great coat, he said. It was like something James Bond would wear. Had I been to this restaurant before?

We had just walked into Japonica, a sushi restaurant on University Place. Our interview was underway, and Wallace was already several questions ahead of nearly every writer I had ever profiled. Most writers, even the most curious one, don’t ask questions of a journalist. Nor should they, necessarily. They are the ones being interviewed, after all.

Wallace, however, seemed to think in the interrogative mode. He was tall and slightly sweaty, looking like he had just come from a run. But he seemed determined not to intimidate. He was like a big cat pulling out his claws, one question at a time. See, look, I’m not going to be difficult.

Once we got going, though—and there was a propulsive, caffeinated momentum to the way he talked—he returned, constantly, to questions. Had I ever written about my life? It’s hard, right? Are celebrities even the same species as us? Is it possible to show what someone was really like in a profile?

“These nonfiction pieces feel to me like the very hardest thing that I do,” he said, talking about Consider the Lobster, the book he had just published, “because reality is infinite.” And then. “God only knows what you are jotting.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this encounter lately. For the past fifteen years, I have interviewed a lot of writers. A few hundred—perhaps too many, but why not say yes? Shortly out of college a friend gave me a vintage set of The Paris Review Book of Interviews. They exhaled the flinty musk of a cigar smoker’s home, and were as snappy as the lining of a 1940s dinner jacket. Read More »

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What We’re Loving: Works That Work

April 19, 2013 | by

nightattheoperaYesterday I was handed the first issue of a Dutch magazine that bills itself as “a kind of National Geographic of design.” Oddly, the design of Works That Work (in print) leaves much to be desired: it’s the size and shape of a puffy playbill. But there is an online edition, and the features range from an interview with the translator Linda Asher to an article on battlefield cooking to an investigation of that crowd-management fad, the fly in the urinal. (Yes, it’s published in English.) —Lorin Stein

Every now and then, I go back to my copy of Musicality, a collaboration between Barbara Guest and June Felter, and this week was one of those times (maybe it’s the advent—finally!—of spring that drew me to the book). Published in 1988 by Kelsey St. Press, it combines a single poem by Guest interspersed among pages of Felter’s pencil drawings of rural landscapes—scribbled trees, grasses, and hillocks; knotted loops for clouds; and the simplest geometry to describe farmhouses. Guest’s lines likewise employ the smallest marks, the slightest movements to render nature’s, well, musicality: “Hanging apples half notes / in the rhythmic     ceiling    red flagged / rag clefs / notational margins / the unfinished / cloudburst / a barrel cloud fallen from the cyclone truck / they hid under a table the cloud / with menacing disc / Leafs ripple in the dry cyclonic.” It doesn’t hurt that the book’s cover stock has a very pleasing, toothy texture (Fabriano Artistico, for you paper fiends out there), so it’s doubly nice to pick up. —Nicole Rudick Read More »

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Just Gotta Say…

April 20, 2012 | by

Nothing against Swamplandia! or The Pale King, but we can‘t help wishing the Pulitzer Board had gotten its act together—and chosen Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, the novella that appeared in our Summer 2002 issue. That would have been our first Pulitzer! As it is, it’s our first Pulitzer nomination. Train Dreams made its original appearance alongside fiction by Aleksandar Hemon and Mary Robison, interviews with Ian McEwan and Louis Begley, plus a radio play by Rick Moody ... and we have a few copies in mint condition. Buy yours while supplies last.

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