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Posts Tagged ‘William Wei’

Staff Picks: Forehead Blotches, Lasagna Hogs, and Crust Punks

September 2, 2016 | by

From William Eggleston’s The Democractic Forest.

From William Eggleston’s The Democratic Forest.

In the new issue of Aperture, our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, pays a visit to William Eggleston in Memphis. As you might expect, it is a memorable visit. Eggleston plays piano for John and his wife, Mariana. They talk about Bach and Big Star and Mississippi Fred McDowell; and about Eggleston’s fifty-year marriage. They look at his photos, too. “He asked me to pull down the new boxed set of his Democratic Forest (2015). Ten volumes. I stopped at certain pictures. He leaned forward and, with his finger, traced lines of composition. Boxes and Xs. Forcing me to pay attention to the original paying of attention. ‘Either everything works, or nothing works,’ he said about one picture, a shot of an aquamarine bus pulling into a silvery station. ‘In this picture, everything works.’ ” —Lorin Stein

After reading Amie Barrodale’s debut collection You Are Having a Good Time, I was reminded of something Geoff Dyer wrote in his introduction to Prabuddha Dasgupta’s photography portfolio in our two hundredth issue: “Longing can exist entirely for its own sake, with no object in mind, as a kind of intensified nostalgia or eroticized elegy.” It’s this aimless form of desire that drives Barrodale’s stories and gets her characters into trouble, as in “William Wei” (for which Barrodale won our 2011 Plimpton Prize), about a morbidly depressed New Yorker’s attempt to crystallize a relationship with a woman he’s spoken to only on the telephone, mostly when she’s stoned. In “Catholic,” a young woman has a one-night stand with a married man, obsesses over him, and compulsively e-mails him without response: “I told him a tree of plum blossoms fell on me and I saw some young men wearing outfits … I always wish there was a point to all those e-mails. Maybe there was. I don’t know. I do know. There was.” Like so many of the troubled people in these fictions, she struggles to articulate the profundity in her bad decisions. Still, she desperately convinces herself that the beauty is there, somewhere. In You Are Having a Good Time, we know meaning exists, but we’re all too fucked up to understand its various expressions. It’s one of the quintessential sentiments of this collection: the stories are as eloquent as a plum blossom tree collapsing on a lonely woman—if only we could figure out just what that eloquence means. —Daniel Johnson

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Reading in Bed with James Franco

October 25, 2011 | by

The other night James Franco curled up with Amie Barrodale’s story “William Wei,” from issue 197. Then he sent us the tape.

Click here for the finished, cleaned-up audio version.

Click here for the video:

Click here to buy the issue.

Stay tuned for more dramatic readings by fans of The Paris Review.

 

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The Summer Issue: Six Questions for Amie Barrodale

June 15, 2011 | by

In Amie Barrodale's “William Wei,” the eponymous narrator enters into an unusual relationship over the phone with a woman who claims to have met him at a party. What follows, as he says, “changed my life.” Barrodale took the time to answer a few questions.

How would you characterize your work?

When people ask me what kind of things I write, I just say I write stories. I don’t know what else to say.

The details of this story feel real. What inspired it?

I met someone who did this to me. Or something similar.

Your fiction seems to deal frequently with questions of human disconnection.

Disconnection, yes. I don't know why. I find disconnection painful and very, very emotional, so I like to try to write about it. You can’t boil it down or sum it up. You can only describe it.

A Google search tells me “William Wei” is “the Video Producer for Business Insider,” “Professor of Statistics at Temple University,” and a professor of surgery. Coincidence?

The names came from nowhere but later I learned that Wei, in addition to being a surname, means “who are you?” in Chinese. Or I read that somewhere. I hope it's true. It’s also a greeting for the phone, Wei.

What writers are you into these days? Who are you reading now?

I really like the stories Donald Antrim has been writing in The New Yorker lately. I love V. S. Naipaul and the novel Pitch Dark by Renata Adler. I also love Wong Kar-Wai, and I just now found, through your guys’ recommendation, Chris Marker. I’m traveling so I’m not reading; my suitemate took the book I brought, and I’m a little embarrassed to say what it was.

What are you working on?

I’m working on a novel, but I’m a little superstitious and yesterday a tarot card reader told me not to discus my idea—someone might take it. I mean, it was a friend with a deck of those cards. I would have discounted it, except that she was the second friend with cards to tell me that, about this book, so …

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