Thomas Pynchon, The Art of Fiction No. 224

Interviewed by Teddy Shapiro

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INTERVIEWER

Does it bother you that you’re widely considered a paranoid?

PYNCHON

Yes and no. Being called paranoid seems preferable to any number of things. Especially now, with the degrees of access, the ubiquity of cameras—it’s a position that seems increasingly less, well, paranoid. The word that does bother me is recluse. I don’t consider myself reclusive.

INTERVIEWER

Do you still worry about being sighted? Is that still a thing for you?

PYNCHON

Not especially. But you know, you live a certain way. You gravitate toward certain diversions.

INTERVIEWER

Such as?

PYNCHON

Carnivals. Costume balls. I’ve seen Sleep No More sixty-three times.

INTERVIEWER

So it’s not like you go around in a mask.

PYNCHON

Ha! No. I did have one of those Nixon masks for a while, but it frightened my son. Then I got in touch with a German firm, Nu Gesicht—they manufacture these custom-molded, high-end prostheses, the same company they used to design the cast of Nicolas Cage’s face in Face/Off—and had them build me a few disguises. I wouldn’t call them masks.

INTERVIEWER

Disguises, like costumes?

PYNCHON

Jaron Lanier. Greil Marcus. David Denby. I once dressed up as James Wood and played the bongos in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Summer stock. This is on YouTube.

INTERVIEWER

Were you caught?

PYNCHON

Ask him.

 

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