Redux: Snap and Glare and Secret Life



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.

Pat Barker. Photo courtesy of Pat Barker.

This week at The Paris Review, we’re dwelling on endings, finishes, and closures. Read on for Pat Barker’s Art of Fiction interview, Reinaldo Arenas’s short story “The Parade Ends,” and Adrienne Rich’s poem “End of an Era.”

If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to The Paris Review? Or, better yet, subscribe to our special summer offer with The New York Review of Books for only $99. And for as long as we’re flattening the curve, The Paris Review will be sending out a weekly newsletter, The Art of Distance, featuring unlocked archival selections, dispatches from the Daily, and efforts from our peer organizations. Read the latest edition here, and then sign up for more.


Pat Barker, The Art of Fiction No. 243
Issue no. 227, Winter 2018

What I would say is that if you’ve got a strong ending, basically you’ve got the book. If you know you’re working toward something that you think works, you’ll get there, somehow, no matter how awful it is struggling with what’s going on in the middle. It’s much harder to bring a book to fruition when you have a very good sound beginning that then peters out into nothing. Books stand or fall really on their endings. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a good novel that has a weak ending.



The Parade Ends
By Reinaldo Arenas
Issue no. 80, Summer 1981

Life, above all, life in spite of everything, life however it is, even without anything, even without you (and in spite of you) amid the din that rises now, amid the shrieks and the songs, for they’re singing, singing again, and no less than the national anthem. Life, now, while I pursue you over the excrement to the sound of the notes (or shouts) of the national anthem, holding you as justification and refuge, as an immediate solution, as sustenance, the rest (what is the rest?) we’ll see about later.



End of an Era
By Adrienne Rich
Issue no. 27, Winter–Spring 1962

This morning, flakes of sun
peel down to the last snowholds,
the barbed-wire leavings of a war
lost, won, in these dead-end alleys.
Stale as a written-out journalist,
I start to sort my gear.
Nothing is happening. City, dumb
as a pack of thumbed cards, you
once had snap and glare
and secret life; now, trembling
under my five grey senses’ weight,
you fall and flatten
queasily on the table.

Baudelaire, I think of you! Nothing changes,
rude and self-absorbed the current
dashes past, asking nothing, poetry
extends its unsought amnesty,
autumn saws the great grove down.
Some voices, though, shake in the air like heat.


To read more from the Paris Review archives, make sure to subscribe! In addition to four print issues per year, you’ll also receive complete digital access to our sixty-seven years’ worth of archivesAnd for a limited time, you can subscribe to both The Paris Review and The New York Review of Books for just $99.