Now Online: Our Interviews with Dag Solstad, Jay McInerney





The interviews from our Summer issue are now online in their entirety, freely available for subscribers and nonsubscribers alike. In the Art of Fiction No. 231, Jay McInerney discusses the circumstances that led to his first published short story—which appeared in The Paris Review

George called me up. He said, I liked your story, I think you’re talented, let me know if you have anything else. So I went to my drawer that night and reread everything I had written up to that point … I came across this piece of paper with one paragraph, in a nearly illegible scrawl, which read, “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But you are here … ” et cetera. Three or four sentences long … this was the only thing that struck me as being remotely original or interesting, and so that night I started continuing the story. I think I finished it the next day. George published the story, almost as I wrote it.

That story, “It’s Six A.M. Do You Know Where You Are?”, ran in our Winter 1982 issue. Subscribers can read it in full online; it’s part of our new digital archive. It went on to serve as the foundation for McInerney’s novel Bright Lights, Big City.


And in the Art of Fiction No. 230, the Norwegian writer Dag Solstad defends his affinity for the third person:

To me, being able to see someone from the outside has been of the utmost importance. If you have an “I,” you’ve limited yourself to that perspective, but if you write in the third person, you are much freer to mobilize other perspectives and positions. Of course, writing in the first person intuitively seems much easier. I think almost everyone who sets out to write a novel starts with the idea of telling it in the first person. Given how easy it is, it’s almost surprising I have only written two novels in the first person. 

If you write about an “I” and what happens to it, it’s easy to feel that you don’t even have to compose, that you’re free to write about almost anything. You just write from A to Z. Most bad novels are written in the first person.

If you’re on a Norwegian kick (and who isn’t?) be sure to read the proceedings from the first annual Norwegian-American Literary Festival, covered in our Winter 2012 issue.