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Posts Tagged ‘John Jeremiah Sullivan’

Antrim Returns, and Other News

September 18, 2014 | by


  • John Jeremiah Sullivan on Donald Antrim and his new collection of short stories, The Emerald Light in the Air: “That last story [‘The Emerald Light’] does something special, something very quiet that demands extremely close brushwork, something that exceedingly few writers can do … The technique is one of illusion and happens at the level of the text itself. It’s a way of rendering permeable the surface lens that divides the underworld of fantasy from the ‘painful realism’ hovering above it, so that writer and reader at moments seem joined in not being totally certain whether what’s happening on the page should be taken literally and naturalistically or as mythical, otherworldly.”
  • “It is almost unheard-of for the same writer to have a byline on the lead item in rival newspapers. But it has happened in Britain today—to a man who last picked up his pen in 1796.” (Hint: think New Year’s Eve.)
  • Apple’s iOS 8 includes QuickType, a predictive typing feature that suggests words you might want to type next. Followed to its extremes, it takes one’s sentences to strange and arguably poetic lands: “I have a great way of saying the government has ordered a pizza./ Yes, you do that for the rest of the day before I go to sleep.”
  • Ben Lerner and Ariana Reines in conversation: “For me, the cow is a real modernist figure. I feel like after God died, the cow became the onlooker in great works of modernism. It’s the witness in Joyce, it shows up again and again—for me, it’s like the residue of the divine in the twentieth century.”
  • In the eighties, Michael Chabon had a punk band in Pittsburgh. They were called the Bats. One of his bandmates said, “I just remembered being very impressed with his stage presence, like he’d been waiting all his life to do this.”


The Norwegian-American Literary Festival Comes to New York

May 13, 2014 | by

NALFFor the last two years, a small group of American writers and critics has convened in Oslo for a series of informal lectures, interviews, and discussions. Dubbed the Norwegian-American Literary Festival, this unlikely gathering has introduced packed houses to the likes of Donald Antrim, Elif Batuman, Lydia Davis, Sam Lipsyte, and John Jeremiah Sullivan, and—on the American side—has helped spread word of contemporary Norwegian masters including Karl Ove Knausgaard, Joachim Trier, and Turbonegro.

Now, for one night only, The Paris Review is proud to welcome the Norwegian-American Literary Festival to New York.

On Wednesday, May 28, join us at Chez André in the East Village to hear Claire Messud and James Wood in conversation with the Norwegian novelist Linn Ullmann, followed by rare musical performances by James Wood and John Jeremiah Sullivan. Liquid refreshments will be served.

Admission is free, but space is limited—reserve tickets for you and one guest now by e-mailing us at



The What Will Save You Factor

May 6, 2014 | by

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

At our Spring Revel last month, John Jeremiah Sullivan presented the Hadada Award to Frederick Seidel. Sullivan’s remarks follow, along with three of Seidel’s poems, which were read aloud that night: “Downtown,” read by Zadie Smith; “Frederick Seidel,” read by Martin Amis; and “The Night Sky,” read by Uma Thurman.

As a kind of offsite, ersatz staff member at The Paris Review, I claim the pleasure both of thanking you all for your presence here, and of thanking everyone at the Review—Lorin, and the board, and my colleagues there—for giving me the honor of announcing this award. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word honor in a less glib manner.

When you are in your twenties and living in the city, or any city, or anywhere, and trying to write, there are poets whose work will come to mean something to you beyond pleasure, beyond even whatever we have in mind when we use the word inspiration, and into the arena of survival, into what the poet whose work we are celebrating tonight describes as the “what will save you factor.”

When I was in my twenties and living in New York, the poet who came to mean that for me and a lot of the other younger writers and editors I knew was one named Frederick Seidel, a poet who had come, like another we’d heard about, from St. Louis via Harvard, and from there, via everywhere. Read More »


John Jeremiah Sullivan Wins James Beard Foundation Award

May 5, 2014 | by


Photo: PatríciaR, via Wikimedia Commons

Congratulations to our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, who’s been honored with the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his essay “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee.”

The James Beard Foundation awards are presented “for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education.” “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee” appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Lucky Peach; it tells the story of Kevin West, who has recently discovered, or perhaps rekindled, a family passion for home-preserving and pickling. If the title strikes you as familiar but unplaceable, fear not, for I have done your googling for you—it refers to Wallace Stevens’s famous poem “Anecdote of the Jar,” first published in 1919:

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion every where.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.



Bob Ross by the Numbers, and Other News

April 15, 2014 | by

bob ross joy of painting

A publicity still from Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting



Attention, Angelenos: We Are in Your Fair City

February 20, 2014 | by

jj sullivan

Photo: John Taylor

As New York’s brutal winter wends its way onward, ever onward, two among us have had the good sense to go West: our John Jeremiah Sullivan and Lorin Stein have absconded to LA, which reliable sources indicate is sunny, balmy, and unspeakably pleasant. The two of them are probably, at this very moment, tooling around in a slick late-model convertible and soaking up rays, the reflection of the Hollywood sign visible in the lenses of their Wayfarers.

But they have a job to do: tonight, at 7:30 P.M., Sullivan will give a reading as part of the Hammer Museum’s Some Favorite Writers series, where he’ll be joined by Stein. The event is free, and given how wonderful it must feel to be in Los Angeles, you can expect both gentlemen to be in top form. Go!