Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Lethem’
October 7, 2011 | by Sadie Stein
Last night, seventy-five or so Angelenos gathered at the Standard, Hollywood to listen to Ann Louise Bardach, David Kipen, Jonathan Lethem, Tom Lutz, and Michael Tolkin answer audience questions on life, love, and books. Subjects ranged from The Onion (everyone’s favorite contemporary humor publication) to Dickens (in whom “the archetypes for all modern fiction can be found”) to the possibility of making a living as a poet (consensus: other sources of income help). What follows are a few of the questions the panel addressed.
Should writers date each other?
Bardach: Sure, but not in the same genre. That’s the important thing.
A guest: A writer and a reader?
Bardach: Well, yes, every writer should have one.
How does one get over the fear of the blank page?
Tolkin: First of all, it’s more a blank screen now. Don’t leave it blank. Put something on it, anything. If it’s bad, you can improve it, tear it apart. If it’s good, even better. The important thing is getting something down, taking that step.
What are your goals for a new novel? What’s your hope for it?
Tolkin: Kill every other book on the shelf.
Lethem: It’s a great line, but I actually feel the opposite: it’s those other books on the shelf that inspire me, and I want to join their company, add to that conversation. And, you know, looking around this room—I’m going to get very sincere, here—it’s affirming. This is not what we are made for, what I am made for. We sit and we write words, and for whatever reason, you’re all out here to listen, and see us. We’re in this strange, solitary profession, hoping to connect with a few people and, look—we packed a room.
Have a question for the editors of The Paris Review? E-mail us.
October 3, 2011 | by Sadie Stein
This week, The Paris Review heads west: specifically, to the Standard, Hollywood, in L.A., where we’ll be joined by West Coast friends including Ann Louise Bardach, David Kipen, Jonathan Lethem, Tom Lutz, Mona Simpson, and Michael Tolkin. Got a question on books, life, love, or anything else? Pose them below, and our panel will tackle them! We’ll reproduce the best answers on the Daily.
And if you’re in Los Angeles, do stop by!
When: Thursday, October 6
Where: Cactus Lounge
The Standard, Hollywood
8300 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
And thanks to our friends at PEN USA, our partners for the event.
September 30, 2011 | by Lorin Stein
I know that I am not alone in sometimes craving nothing more than a nice, long browse through the self-help section of the bookstore. But I know that I’m alone in admitting it to The Paris Review! My question is, do you know of any authors writing in the self-help genre who have elevated the form and who you would qualify as literary?
Let your self-help freak flag fly! I’ve already had occasion to recommend Love and Limerence, by the late Dorothy Tennov. It’s a book about what to do if you find yourself in love. This is my favorite self-help book, and I think about it often. An informal poll of The Paris Review office reveals that everyone has been telling us to read The Artist’s Way (“you can skip the spiritual parts”) but that none of us has read it.
I used to frequent Chumley’s and the Cedar Tavern. (I even went to the Algonquin once, thinking that it would be a glamorous throwback, but it turned out to be a tourist trap.) Lately even the White Horse Tavern is overrun with investment bankers. It’s awful. What is the ideal place to spend a few hours drinking—and still feel a hint of New York’s rich literary past—this fall?
It may be a little low on mystique, but if you’re in the Village and want to drink in the company of writers, you can’t go wrong with Cafe Loup. It’s crawling with them—and there’s always plenty of extra martini in the shaker. If you’re hungry, order the fries. In Boerum Hill, writers—those who can still make the rent—tend to congregate at the Brooklyn Inn (a bar that features in Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn). I’ve never been to Scratcher, in the East Village, except when some writer was having a party there—but I’m told it’s hard to tell the difference. If you’re headed uptown, there is always the Carlyle, a perennial tourist trap that happens also to have a wonderful bar, one celebrated in several poems by Frederick Seidel, including “For Holly Anderson.” Read More »
August 15, 2011 | by Chris Flynn
Most dust jackets list only literary accomplishments, but I’ve always been a fan of offbeat author bios. So I asked some of my favorite writers to describe their early jobs.
Jessica Anthony: I was a singing-telegram cowgirl in upstate New York in the early nineties. I wore the dress, boots, hat, and fringe. I went to various places of business and sang, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no” from Oklahoma! to human beings who desperately had no interest in it.
Jonathan Lethem: I once had a job as the assistant of a family friend, a very talented artist and theatrical designer who had, in the parlance of the time, “gone mad.” My tasks included helping him move a discarded chrome car bumper from the street to his tiny Upper West Side studio-apartment bedroom; helping him weld the bumper to a sculpture that also included sardine tins still covered in oil and shreds of fish; and walking his poodle to the liquor store to buy him bottles of gin. But there were problems: the unfortunate, confused dog had a giant clot of bright red paint covering approximately a third of its white curls, so that it appeared to have been attacked by an ax murderer. Also, I was only thirteen. Even in 1977, a liquor store on the Upper West Side wouldn’t sell a tall bottle of gin to a teenager leashed to a zombie poodle.
Adam Levin: I used to hand out Winston cigarettes at bars for a Chicago “guerrilla marketing” firm. I was required to carry around a duffel full of cigarette cartons. We had some discretion over how many packs to give out to each person—usually between one and four. I also carried a box in which an old digital camera was mounted. If you wanted free cigarettes, you had to let me photograph your driver’s license, and you’d nearly always let me, because you were drunk, which is why I picked you to begin with. So maybe it was more like I used to collect personal information at bars in Chicago for a “guerrilla marketing” firm employed by Winston.
Peter Carey: Never, in all my life, have I been employed in a job as absurd and peculiar as the one I have right now. Commuting between 1854 and 2011 is killing me.
July 12, 2011 | by Thessaly La Force
Watch this beautiful video about Brazenhead Books, a secret bookstore that’s been tucked away in Michael Seidenberg’s apartment on the Upper East Side ever since the rent for his original retail space in Brooklyn was quadrupled. (Jonathan Lethem used to work there.) “This would have not been my ideal,” he says. “I wouldn’t have thought I want to have a bookshop in a location no one knows about.” But Brazen says it’s a continuation of being the kind of bookseller he wants to be—not on the street, not at book fairs, but inside, the shelves lined with first editions, knickknacks, and, one hopes, a cat. “I don’t know if it’s my familiarity with failure,” he adds. “I find ways to survive without it making enough money to be what you would call a successful business. If it’s all about money, there’s just better things to sell.” And how do those of us who’ve never been find him? He’s in the phone book, he says with a smile. Hiding in plain sight.
November 18, 2010 | by Christian Viveros-Fauné
Car Bomb, 2008. Photocollage, acrylic, resin on wood panel. 60" x 60". © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.
When Motherless Brooklyn author Jonathan Lethem announced in April that he would be relocating from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, to the white-collar, academic enclave of Claremont, California (where he’d take over David Foster-Wallace’s teaching slot at Pomona College), the borough felt a twinge of old-time, Brooklyn Dodgers–style rejection. Fortunately for dwellers of Kings County—and others who hold resident New York bards dear—Fred Tomaselli was simultaneously putting the finishing touches on the installation of his latest crackerjack show: his unabashedly gorgeous, conceptually expansive midcareer retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum.
Tomaselli is a Brooklynite in the same way most New Yorkers come by their adoptive heritage—as immigrants from ambition. Born in Santa Monica and raised in Orange County, within spitting distance of Disneyland’s Matterhorn, he moved to Los Angeles in 1981, only to leave for New York, and rusty, desperate Brooklyn, in 1985—“one last crazy stupid thing before I got old and lost my nerve,” he later recalled.