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.
The summer solstice is this week, so as things heat up and before the days get shorter, we bring you our interview with Kazuo Ishiguro, where he recalls his summer job as a grouse beater for the queen mother; William Gass’s nostalgia-driven short story “Summer Bees,” in which an affair is fondly remembered; and Molly Peacock’s poem “A Hot Day in Agrigento.”
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Art of Fiction No. 196
Issue no. 184 (Spring 2008)
My first summer after leaving school I worked for the Queen Mother at Balmoral Castle, where the royal family spend their summer holidays. In those days they used to recruit local students to be grouse beaters. The royal family would invite people to shoot on their estate. The Queen Mother and her guests would get into Land Rovers with shotguns and whiskey and drive over bits of the moor from shooting butt to shooting butt. That’s where they would aim and shoot. Fifteen of us would walk in formation across the moor, spaced about a hundred yards apart in the heather. The grouse live in the heather, and they hear us coming, and they hop. By the time we arrive at the butts, all of the grouse in the vicinity have accumulated and the Queen Mum and her friends are waiting with shotguns. Around the butts there’s no heather, so the grouse have got no choice but to fly up. Then the shooting starts. And then we walk to the next butt. It’s a bit like golf.
By William Gass
Issue no. 79 (Spring 1981)
We had one shortened summer month together, Lou and I … my god, even the decade’s gone. Pleading the pressures of work, I excused myself from my life and settled in a second-story room in western New York. A wooden stair fell from one widened window like a slide of cards. We hung our towels there: a shirt sometimes, a slip as discreet as a leer. I remember particularly the quiet empty streets, the long walk to the beach. Well, it was scarcely a beach, though there was a pier, and even in August the water was cool in those thin deep lakes the patient passion of the glaciers scratched. My chief memory is the heat, the silence, your pale breasts. Pale as a bleached leaf. I do not understand what makes another body so appealing.
A Hot Day in Agrigento
By Molly Peacock
Issue no. 100 (Fall–Summer 1986)
Temples look like discarded alphabets.
We loved lying in their shadows lazily
deciphering and resting and laying bets
on what they really were for. Easily
caught by fantasy, we no longer cared
why they were there, just that they were …
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