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.
Edmund White, The Art of Fiction No. 105
Issue no. 108 (Fall 1988)
It was a political act for me to sign The Joy of Gay Sex at the time. The publisher could not have cared less, but for me it was a big act of coming out. Charles Silverstein, my coauthor, and I were both aware that we would be addressing a lot of people and so in that sense we were spokesmen. We always pictured our ideal reader as someone who thought he was the only homosexual in the world. States of Desire was an attempt to see the varieties of gay experience and also to suggest the enormous range of gay life to straight and gay people—to show that gays aren’t just hairdressers, they’re also petroleum engineers and ranchers and short-order cooks. Once I’d written States of Desire I felt it was important to show one gay life in particular depth, rather than all of these lives in a shorthand version.
By Garth Greenwell
Issue no. 209 (Summer 2014)
It would have made me laugh in English, I think, the word he used for himself and that he insisted I use for him—not that he had had to insist, of course, I would call him whatever he wanted. But in his language there was a resonance it would have lacked in my own, partaking both of the everyday (gospodine, my students say in greeting, mister or sir) and of the scented chant of the cathedral. He was naked when he opened the door, backlit in the entrance of his apartment, or naked except for a series of leather straps that crossed his chest, serving no particular function; and this too might have made me laugh, were there not something in his manner that forbade it. He didn’t greet me or invite me in, but turned his back without a word and walked to the center of what I took to be the apartment’s main room. I didn’t follow him, I waited at the edge of the light until he turned again and faced me, and then he did speak, telling me to undress in the hallway. Take off everything, he said, take off everything and then come in.
Prayer to Aphrodite
Issue no. 88 (Summer 1983)
Eternal Aphrodite, Zeus’s daughter, throne
Of inlay, deviser of nets, I entreat you:
Do not let a yoke of grief and anguish weigh
Down my soul, Lady,
But come to me now, as you did before
When, hearing my cries even at that distance
You slammed the door of your father’s house—
Golden! and hastened …
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