Redux: Suspension of Disparate Particles



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.

Marilynne Robinson.

This week at The Paris Review, we’re embracing hermitism. Read on for Marilynne Robinson’s Art of Fiction interview, Rick Bass’s short story “The Hermit’s Story,” and Karen Solie’s poem “A Hermit.”

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Marilynne Robinson, The Art of Fiction No. 198
Issue no. 186 (Fall 2008)


When you were little, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?


Oh, a hermit? My brother told me I was going to be a poet. I had a good brother. He did a lot of good brotherly work. There we were in this tiny town in Idaho, and he was like Alexander dividing up the world: I’ll be the painter, you’ll be the poet.



The Hermit’s Story
By Rick Bass
Issue no. 147 (Summer 1998)

An ice storm, following seven days of snow; the vast fields and drifts of snow turning to sheets of glazed ice that shine and shimmer blue in the moonlight as if the color is being fabricated not by the bending and absorption of light but by some chemical reaction within the glossy ice; as if the source of all blueness lies somewhere up here in the north—the core of it beneath one of those frozen fields; as if blue is a thing that emerges, in some parts of the world, from the soil itself, after the sun goes down.



A Hermit
By Karen Solie
Issue no. 218 (Fall 2016)

Experience teaches, but its lessons
may be useless. I could have done without
a few whose only by-product is grief,

which, as waste, in its final form,
isn’t good for anything.

A helicopter beating all night above the firth,
a Druid shouting astrology
outside the off-licence will eventually
put the Ambien in ambience.

Our culture is best described as heroic.
Courageous in self-promotion, noble
in the circulation of others’
disgrace, our preoccupation with death

in a context of immortal glory truly
epic, and the task becomes suspension
of disparate particles …


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