Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
This week, we bring you our 1984 interview with James Baldwin, Raymond Carver’s story “Why Don’t You Dance?,” and Dorothea Lasky’s poem “I Had a Man.” You can also listen to all three in the third episode of our new podcast, featuring guest readers LeVar Burton and Dakota Johnson.
James Baldwin, The Art of Fiction No. 78
Issue no. 91 (Spring 1984)
I think that it is a spiritual disaster to pretend that one doesn’t love one’s country. You may disapprove of it, you may be forced to leave it, you may live your whole life as a battle, yet I don’t think you can escape it. There isn’t any other place to go—you don’t pull up your roots and put them down someplace else. At least not in a single lifetime, or, if you do, you’ll be aware of precisely what it means, knowing that your real roots are always elsewhere. If you try to pretend you don’t see the immediate reality that formed you I think you’ll go blind.
They drank. They listened to the record. And then the man put on another.
Why don’t you kids dance? he decided to say, and then he said it. “Why don’t you dance?”
“I don’t think so,” the boy said.
“Go ahead,” the man said. “It’s my yard. You can dance if you want to.”
“I Had a Man,” by Dorothea Lasky
Issue no. 199 (Winter 2011)
This violence that we put on women
I don’t think it’s crazy
Someone I know said
“Oh, that man was crazy”
I don’t think he was crazy
Maybe he could tell I had a look in my eye
That wasn’t crazy anymore
Maybe he could feel the wild cool blood in me
And it frightened him
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