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Posts Tagged ‘Lawrence Ferlinghetti’

In Conversation

November 5, 2013 | by

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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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Lawrence Ferlinghetti Turns Down 50,000 Euro Poetry Prize

October 12, 2012 | by

  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti has declined the fifty-thousand-euro Janus Pannonius International Poetry Prize from the Hungarian branch of PEN, citing the government’s suppression of free speech.
  • Bret Easton Ellis is most seriously displeased: despite his aggressive campaigning, he has not been chosen as the screenwriter for Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • A map of the world based on book publishing.
  • The taxonomy of the literary Halloween costume.
  • “Underwear is definitely pants” and other lies writers tell themselves.
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    On the Shelf

    January 25, 2012 | by

    A cultural news roundup.

  • Who threatened Rushdie?
  • The author takes his critics to Twitter.
  • victory for publishers.
  • “It was only when I read his article on wallpaper that I realised a hitherto unappreciated aspect of Charles Dickens: his interest in interior décor.”
  • Broadway will return to Manderley ... next year.
  • “People who read poetry are the unsung customer base for independent bookstores.”
  • The poetry of Craigslist.
  • Ten reasons not to sleep with a poet.
  • Cormac McCarthy did not, in fact, have a 140-character affair with Margaret Atwood.
  • A sad Sunday for Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
  • The Internet as an image of gluttony: “A great groaning table, creaking under bottomless platters of food and pitchers of drink, and we in our chairs, too exhausted to stand, mouths too numb to taste much, but with just enough energy to reach for more.”
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