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All the Fun of Poetry Without All Those Poems, and Other News

June 16, 2015 | by

1280px-Kenyon_Cox_-_An_Eclogue_-_Google_Art_Project

Kenyon Cox, An Eclogue, 1889.

  • Ben Lerner stares into the mire of futility and falsehood that is poetry: “What if we dislike or despise or hate poems because they are—every single one of them—failures? … The fatal problem with poetry: poems. This helps explain why poets themselves celebrate poets who renounce writing.”
  • While we’re on poets and failure—in the midthirties, W. H. Auden entered into an auspicious if unlikely collaboration with Benjamin Britten. Here’s how that went: “Britten wrote his first opera, and I my first libretto, on the subject of an American folk hero, Paul Bunyan. The result, I’m sorry to say, was a failure, for which I was entirely to blame, since, at the time, I knew nothing whatever about opera or what is required of a librettist. In consequence some very lovely music of Britten’s went down the drain, and I must now belatedly make my apologies to my old friend while wishing him a very happy birthday.”
  • Sixty years on, J. P. Donleavy’s The Ginger Man “remains a hilarious and upsetting portrait of postwar Ireland and the American GIs who showed up there, with the prerogative and the wherewithal to carouse and copulate on a level that the locals did not appreciate.” And what of its author? He remains … obstreperous, a new interview suggests. “When I return to the kitchen, I see that Donleavy has put on a funny pink bucket hat. He tells me he never allowed any changes to his manuscripts, nor is he particularly inviting of second readers or the like.”
  • What’s your very favorite thing? If you answered “art fairs,” congratulations—you can’t throw a rock without hitting one. (Also, you are probably very wealthy.) You could be at an art fair right now, in fact, in beautiful Switzerland, instead of reading this. Art Basel “is one of at least 180 international art fairs held each year, up from only fifty-five in 2000 … The art calendar is so packed with them that there is increasing talk of ‘fair fatigue’—visitor and exhibitor saturation.”
  • Airports are such liminal spaces—and are so widely loathed—that we risk losing them to history. Who is documenting the airports? Who will remember them? Andrea Bruce is one of twenty photographers who took pictures of the airports she passed through in April. “Each time she let security scan her ISO 400 film with x-rays. Though the TSA claims that airport x-rays do not affect film of that speed in the United States, the repeated exposures to radiation left some of Bruce’s photographs with what she describes as ‘a faint, ghostly wave.’ ”

Remembering the Revel

April 13, 2015 | by

The Paris Review Spring Revel 2015

Norman Rush receives the Hadada Award.

Our Spring Revel was last Tuesday, and it was, as Gay Talese put it simply, “a real party,” a party for the ages. About five hundred of us gathered at Cipriani 42nd Street to honor Norman Rush with the Hadada Award, presented by James Wood, who recited one of my favorite jokes from Subtle Bodies: “Pinot noir meant don’t urinate at night.”

Hilary Mantel took the stage to award Atticus Lish the Plimpton Prize for Fiction; “I am extremely fortunate to receive this award,” Lish said, “as is anyone who receives recognition in any field. Few people get much of a gold star no matter what they do in life.”

Mark Leyner received the Terry Southern Prize for Humor—which he has publicly promised to hang above his bed, like a mobile—from Donald Antrim. Never in recorded history have the words Sugar-frosted nutsack been uttered before so large and so gracious a crowd. Last, The Paris Review bade a fond farewell to our longtime publisher, Antonio Weiss, who has absconded to Washington to serve as the counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Our loss is the nation’s gain.

It was a spectacular evening, as the photos below attest. You can read accounts of the fun from Womens Wear Daily, New York Social Diary, and Page Six—and you can see even more photos of the revelry here. Happy spring, and see you next year!

Photos by Clint Spaulding / © Patrick McMullan / PatrickMcMullan.com
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Presenting “Big, Bent Ears”

March 4, 2015 | by

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Image: Natalie F. Smith

Many of you know Sam Stephenson from his excellent contributions to the Daily over the years. But he also has, with Ivan Weiss, a documentary nonprofit called Rock Fish Stew—they’ve worked on projects about everything from jazz to baseball. And starting today, they’re collaborating with The Paris Review on a new series of multimedia pieces called “Big, Bent Ears: A Serial in Documentary Uncertainty.” As they explain in the prologue,

We pursue hunches, welcome distractions, give ourselves space to associate freely. There’s something indulgent in this approach—childlike, some might say—but we try to balance our impulses with learned rigor … We’ll offer combinations of video, audio, photography, and writing in various arrangements and states of completion.

So why the name? Whose ears are both big and bent, save perhaps certain breeds of dog? Sam and Ivan explain:

The name Big, Bent Ears derives from our two current projects, the Joseph Mitchell Project and the Big Ears Documentary Project. Joseph Mitchell, the midcentury chronicler of the back alleys of New York City, was renowned for his uncanny ear … his first collection was called My Ears Are Bent.

Big Ears is one of the country’s preeminent experimental music festivals. It features the likes of composer Steve Reich, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, music-art icon Laurie Anderson, tUnE-yArDs, Nazoranai, and the Kronos Quartet, among many others … In an age of quick hits and attention deficits, Big Ears focuses on long listening and the noncommercial craft of music and sound.

Read their prologue here, and check back on March 11 for the first chapter of their story. We’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with, and how far afield they roam.

Dan Piepenbring is the web editor of The Paris Review.

Our Globe-trotting Winners

September 9, 2014 | by

Last month’s #ReadEverywhere contest was a great success. (If you need a refresher: we asked readers to submit pictures of themselves reading The Paris Review or The London Review of Books around the world.) Now the time has come to announce the winners. Cue the marching band, please, and have the sommeliers ready their champagne sabers …

THIRD PLACE is a tie! Both Ivan Herrera and Anders Gäddlin will receive third-place prizes. Ivan is pictured with The Paris Review (and an erumpent sparkler) at Tennessee Alabama Fireworks. Anders read The London Review of Books in a “modernist twentieth-century utopian suburb”: Råslätt, Jönköping, Sweden. They’ll get a copy of one of our Writers at Work anthologies and an LRB mug.

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Ivan Herrera

 

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Anders Gäddlin

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Relive the Revel

April 11, 2014 | by

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Frederick Seidel

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Ben Lerner, Emma Cline

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Ben Lerner, John Jeremiah Sullivan

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel
The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Francine du Plessix Gray, Robert Pounder

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Frederick Seidel

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Gary Shteyngart, Brandon del Pozo

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Gay Talese

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Jeffrey Eugenides, Larissa MacFarquhar

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

John Jeremiah Sullivan

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Jon-Jon Goulian

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Jonathan Galassi

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Jonathan Galassi

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Kay Eldredge, James Salter, Jeanne McCulloch, Rex Weiner

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Kedakai Turner, James Lipton

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel
The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel
The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel
The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel
The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel
The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Lorin Stein

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Roz Chast, Ben Lerner, Emma Cline, Lydia Davis

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Roz Chast

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Stephanie LaCava

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Terry McDonell

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Uma Thurman

The Paris Review 2014 Spring Revel

Zadie Smith, Frederick Seidel

We’re still recovering from Tuesday’s Revel, where some five hundred people gathered to honor Frederick Seidel with the Hadada Award, presented by John Jeremiah Sullivan. Lydia Davis presented Emma Cline with the Plimpton Prize for Fiction; Roz Chast presented the Terry Southern Prize for Humor to Ben Lerner; and Martin Amis, Zadie Smith, and Uma Thurman all read from Seidel’s work. We could say a good time was had by all, but why not let the pictures tell the tale? It was a spectacular evening. You can read accounts of the fun from Page Six, Women’s Wear Daily, and Guest of a Guest. Be sure to take a look at all the photos here, too. See you next year!

Photos by Clint Spaulding / © Patrick McMullan / PatrickMcMullan.com

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We Have a Winner!

March 22, 2013 | by

A few weeks ago, we asked you to send us your best portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-person photos for a chance to win a Frank Clegg briefcase. Read on for a slideshow of exceedingly sensitive finalists … and one gloriously pretentious winner!

Third Place

hp_scanmaggie

This would be mid- to late eighties. I had just finished writing my first novel, calling it Bad Girls of Ireland. I would like to note, for the record, that while the book remains unpublished, I stand firm in my belief that it was the first to wear that “bad girls” label which became a thing in the early nineties (before we had memes, kiddies).

At the time I thought it was an appropriately high/low moniker to slap on two hundred pages that were (let’s be honest) too esoteric to be legible to anyone else on earth; in retrospect it sounds kind of cheesy. I think you had to be there. Influences? Joyce, naturellement. Nabokov, Calvino, Rilke, Duras, Cortázar, all of those Zone books about the body. Jung! Was I a mo girl swimming in a pomo stream, or the reverse? From the outside my life looked way more like a Tama Janowitz story than the Kathy Acker one that was going on in my head, right down to the jewelry-selling on the street. Earrings—singletons only, made out of broken glass I collected at bus stops. Some insufficiently considered “performance art.” You get the picture. Read More »

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