Posts Tagged ‘William Styron’
December 3, 2012 | by William Styron
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end,” explained William Styron in his 1954 Art of Fiction interview. “You live several lives while reading it. Its writer should, too.” Such is the experience in reading Styron’s Selected Letters, edited by Rose Styron, with R. Blakeslee Gilpin, and published this week. Alongside major cultural and political events of the latter half of the twentieth century are intimate accounts of family life, depression, writing, frustrations, and friendships.
Of his many lives, Styron may be best remembered in this office for his influence on the early years of The Paris Review. It is awfully fun to see those moments surface in his correspondence, and our selection was made with those moments in mind. Look for a new letter each day this week.
To Dorothy Parker
July 19, 1952 Paris, France
Honeybunch darling—the story is, I believe, coming along just dandy and my pretty much night and day work on it is the main reason I haven’t written you before this. It is now between 11,000 and 12,000 words, which I figure is about two-thirds complete. It has some really good—fine—things in it so far, and I think it will be even better when it’s finished. In fact I think I can say it has some of my best writing in it and will make stories by people like Hemingway and Turgenev pale in comparison. That sounds a bit like what Hemingway would say, doesn’t it? Read More »
October 1, 2012 | by Lary Wallace
There were few places on the ship less conducive to reading than the library. In the summer of 2000, in my early twenties, I was stationed aboard an aircraft carrier. The library sat directly beneath the flight deck, which means that in addition to the thump, rattle, and screech of the planes as they landed, there was the heat from the catapults and their fuel, a heat so thick it invaded your respiration like some perniciously odorless fume, trespassing on your psyche and then inhabiting it. Reading there was out of the question, but we weren’t on the ship to read. Which is why it always surprised me how many great books they had in that library.
I found one of the greatest purely by chance. I knew neither the book, Memoir of a Gambler, nor its author, Jack Richardson. It was the title that hooked me. Our ship would soon be returning to San Diego, after a six-month cruise throughout the Pacific Ocean and Arabian Sea, and so I knew I would soon be gambling again. Having already become a devotee of the sports-gambling culture of San Diego—or, more specifically, its adjunct playground of Tijuana—I needed little encouragement. But in the book I now held in my hands, I would find plenty of encouragement anyway.
On the cover, this Jack Richardson struck a classically arch pose, arms crossed in a subdued brown sport coat and vest, staring self-importantly into the camera; beside him, on a circular bar-table sat a gleaming, thickly cut glass ashtray, a lone cigarillo perched on its edge. The back cover featured a blurb from William Styron (a notoriously selective blurber, even on behalf of friends), proclaiming, “Jack Richardson is a wonderful writer and his book is a powerful portrayal of one man’s obsession—sad, hilarious, erotic, and, above all, pitilessly honest. I read Memoir of a Gambler with fascination and delight.” The bio inside the back flap revealed that the author was a distinguished playwright who had also written for many of the magazines I cherished most, and then, on the copyright page, a partial explanation for why I did not recognize him from any of those magazines: “Copyright ©1979.”
March 13, 2012 | by The Paris Review
On Tuesday, April 3, The Paris Review will honor two of our favorite young writers.
Amie Barrodale will receive the Review’s Plimpton Prize for “Wiliam Wei,” which appeared in our Summer issue.
Adam Wilson will receive the second Terry Southern Prize for Humor for his story “What’s Important Is Feeling” and his contributions to The Paris Review Daily.
The Plimpton Prize for Fiction is a $10,000 award given to a new voice published in The Paris Review. The prize is named for the Review’s longtime editor George Plimpton and reflects his commitment to discovering new writers of exceptional merit. The winner is chosen by the Board of the Review. This year’s prize will be presented by Mona Simpson.
The Terry Southern Prize for Humor is a $5,000 award recognizing wit, panache, and sprezzatura in work published by The Paris Review or online by the Daily. Perhaps best known as the screenwriter behind Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider—and the subject of an interview in issue 200!—Terry Southern was also a satirical novelist, a pioneering New Journalist, and a driving force behind the early Paris Review. Comedian David Cross will present this year’s award.
The honoree of this year’s Revel is Robert Silvers. Zadie Smith will present Silvers with the 2012 Hadada, the Review’s lifetime achievement award recognizing a “strong and unique contribution to literature.” Previous recipients of the Hadada include James Salter, John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton (posthumously), Barney Rosset, Philip Roth, and William Styron.
Come help us celebrate our honorees and our two hundredth issue—and support the Review. Buy your Revel tickets now!
October 10, 2011 | by James Jones
The Paris Review was founded in 1953, the year after my father won the National Book Award for his novel From Here to Eternity. James Jones was a newcomer on the literary scene, an outsider who had fought in the Pacific and had only completed two semesters of college. By the time my parents moved to Paris in 1958, The Paris Review was a hugely important literary magazine. And although my father never felt a part of the highly educated, ivory-tower crowd, he was extremely fond of William Styron, George Plimpton, and Peter Matthiessen, the magazine’s founders, and felt a deep kinship with them as people who were committed to the written word. My father was interviewed by Nelson W. Aldrich Jr. for the Autumn/Winter 1958–59 issue of The Paris Review, just after the publication of his second novel, Some Came Running, which was savaged by the critics. The interview gave my father a chance to speak his mind and set the record straight, and it is one of the best interviews he ever gave. It seems only fitting that a section of his earliest, unpublished work should be printed in The Paris Review, whose three founders came to his defense and continued to stand by him and his work long after his death in 1977. —Kaylie Jones
August 4, 2011 | by The Paris Review
Blair Fuller was an editor emeritus of The Paris Review and the author of two novels, A Far Place and Zebina’s Mountain, as well as Art in the Blood: Seven Generations of American Artists in the Fuller Family. Born in New York to a family of artists, architects, and publishers, he became an editor at The Paris Review shortly after it was founded. He moved to California in the early sixties, where he taught in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program and went on to cofound the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He died on July 23, at the age of eighty-four.
Blair went out of his way to welcome the current staff of the Review and to support the new tack of the magazine. He read each issue cover to cover and was quick with both praise and criticism: “The Levé piece is my favorite. I feel badly that he ended his life. An interesting and original man ... I wish Beattie could be trimmed a bit. Bolaño never did grip me. Otherwise a fine issue.” His first response to the Daily was typically forthright: “What a terrible idea!” Eventually he softened and even sent several reminiscences (he called them “memories”) as possible contributions to the blog. In June, he sent us these two snapshots from the early days (and nights) of the Review.
IN PARIS IN THE LATE 1940s, Harold “Doc” Humes had published a magazine, The Paris News-Post, which was intended to tell the Americans who were arriving in large numbers to work for the European recovery effort what they should see, do, and buy in France. Few, however, bought the News. Read More »
May 13, 2011 | by The Paris Review
I’ve been poring over Robert Walser’s Microscripts, a selection from the cache of papers covered in demonically miniaturized handwriting he left at his death. The stories are wonderfully odd, and the book itself is a beautiful object. It includes color reproductions of the manuscripts—often written on the backs of business cards—as well as the deciphered German originals. Walter Benjamin’s afterword praises Walser’s “artful clumsiness,” and I would do the same for Susan Bernofsky’s translation. —Robyn Creswell
I’ve been stealing moments all week to read Katherine Larson’s book of poems, Radial Symmetry. The synthesis of experience and curiosity that Larson no doubt uses in her work as a field ecologist and research scientist is here applied to verse. The natural world has never felt more physical, more alive with tiny movements and infinite textures—and so titillating, as when she writes, “We hear the cactus whisper / pollinate me furry moth.” —Nicole Rudick
Alexander Chee shared an old essay of his on Twitter this morning about being a student of Annie Dillard’s: “You could think that your voice as a writer would just emerge naturally, all on its own, with no help whatsoever, but you’d be wrong. What I saw on the page was that the voice is in fact trapped, nervous, lazy. Even, and in my case, most especially, amnesiac. And that it had to be cut free.” —Thessaly La Force
After seeing a spectacular production of the play on Broadway, I’ve rediscovered Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. It’s a play about love, sex, transcendence (if there is any), and whatever it is that defines the human experience across time and space. But it also reminds us of the beauty and sustaining force of wonder; “it’s the wanting to know that makes us matter,” because when all is said and done, “when we have found all the meanings and lost all the mysteries, we will be alone, on an empty shore.” —Elianna Kan
In Anthony Burgess’s The Pianoplayers, a retired prostitute tells the story of her father, a man who “called himself not a pianist but a pianoplayer.” (No space between piano and player—that was how close he and the piano were.) The entirely fictional yet perfectly matter-of-fact recollection of a difficult father takes the narrative form of a memoir and turns it on its head. Given my absorption in Burgess’s novel, it was an especially interesting week to experience Reading My Father, Alexandra Styron’s memoir of her father, the literary icon (and friend of The Paris Review) William Styron. —Rosalind Parry
Military dogs jumping out of helicopters. Sick. —Natalie Jacoby