Posts Tagged ‘Joan Didion’
February 20, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
While we can’t pretend to have actually asked the question, “What if best-selling albums had been books instead?”, we can all agree that the answer, from British designer Christophe Gowans, is brilliant. (We’d suggest The White Album, but, well.)
January 30, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
January 29, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
October 4, 2012 | by Lucy McKeon
Each Sunday, we would walk down Lexington together, the conversation taking the tempo of our steps: slow, meditative, purposeful. She’d always be in immediate need of a coffee, so we would head for our café. The one on Seventy-something, a fifteen-minute walk from her place. We would never spend too much time in her apartment beforehand. I would go up to get her, maybe sit in her kitchen for five minutes while she got her things together, keys jangling, and we’d leave. I would try to take in the walls of books, visually inhaling the pillows collected over years and continents, and those curtains—thick buttery beige, like icing. Framed photographs from the seventies—the nuclear family—lining the bookcases, soaked in that sunny filter of the era, then sun-soaked again by the morning light.
At the café, we’d speak of her writing, about what she was working on, what movies we’d each recently seen and if they were any good. If we’d spotted any celebrities downtown, we would share what they’d been wearing and she would tell me her dreams. We would sometimes order two scoops of vanilla ice cream to share, and she’d urge me to finish the last bite. If conversation lagged, I might tell her I felt a West Coast phase coming on.
She would read my writing and tell me what was good and what wasn’t (she’d never say anything like she “saw great potential” in me—nothing like that, nothing that might threaten eyes to roll). She’d advise me as a professional equal and as a child, which is exactly how I would feel sitting across from her, two times her size and one-third her age, her books overstuffing my backpack.
“You don’t think in terms of suddenly making it,” she would tell me, remembering when Play It as It Lays first came out. “You think you have some stable talent that will show no matter what you’re writing, and if it doesn’t seem to be getting across to the audience once, you can’t imagine that moment when it suddenly will.” I would nod. “Gradually,” she’d add, “gradually you gain that confidence.”
She wouldn’t always be nice to me. She might be in a foul mood and take it out on me a bit, but then she would always be fair. That’s how I’d know she was taking me seriously. I would be aware then, I wouldn’t have to wait until I was older to recognize, that this acknowledgment, this leveling, was more valuable than anything else.
Her secrets would be my secrets, and mine hers—in so much as people share their secrets. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, she’d say knowingly, eyeing the stacks of journals overflowing my lap, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss. I would shrug and scribble a note or two.
I’d learn her way of being, how she took up space. How she liked her eggs, where she’d sniff after words and what that meant, which was her favorite linen dress. And I’d learn to sketch maps of her intellectual processes. I suppose she would learn mine as well. She had many friends, of course, so it wouldn’t be like I was giving her something to do. She would meet with me for some other reason, one that would never be entirely clear to me. Years later, I would still wonder.
August 31, 2012 | by John Jeremiah Sullivan
This week, our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, stepped in to address your queries.
Dear Paris Review,
I live in the deep south and was raised in a religious cult.
Still with me?
Okay. I’m attempting to throw off the shackles of my religious upbringing and become an intelligent well-informed adult. My primary source of rebellion thus far has been movies. I would watch a Fellini movie and then feel suddenly superior to my friends and family because they only watched movies in their native tongue (trust me I know how pathetic this is). My main question involves my reading selections. Obviously, I have stumbled upon your publication and am aware of its status as the primary literary periodical in English. Also, I have a brand-new subscription to the New York Review of Books, since it is apparently the intellectual center of the English-speaking universe. I am not in an M.F.A. program or living in Brooklyn working on the Great American Kindle Single, I’m just a working-class guy trying to take part in the conversation that all the smart people are having. This brings me to my question: What books should I read? There are so many books out there worth reading, that I literally don’t know where to start. To give you some background info: I was not raised as a reader and was not taught any literature in the Christian high school that I attended. What kinds of books do I like? My answer to that would be movies. I’m desperate to start some kind of grand reading plan that will educate me about the world but don’t know where to start. The classics? Which ones? Modern stuff? Should I alternate one classic with one recent book? How much should I read fiction? How much should I read nonfiction? I went to college but it was for nursing, so I have never been taught anything about reading by anybody.
I realize this stuff may be outside of your comfort zone, as most of the advice questions seem to be from aspiring writers or college-educated people. Please believe me when I say that I am out of touch with the modern world because of a very specific religious cult. I want to be an educated, well-read, cultured, critically thinking person but need some stuff to read. Before I end this letter, I’ll provide an example of just how out of touch I am: you know how "Ms." is the non-sexist way to refer to a woman, and that "Mrs." is sexist? Yeah, I just found out about that. I’m twenty-five.