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This week at The Paris Review, no one wants to get out of bed. Read on for Truman Capote’s Art of Fiction interview, Shruti Swamy’s short story “A House Is a Body,” and Thomas Lux’s poem “Sleepmask Dithyrambic.”
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Truman Capote, The Art of Fiction No. 17
Issue no. 16, Spring–Summer 1957
I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.
A House Is a Body
By Shruti Swamy
Issue no. 225, Summer 2018
Okay, stay home with me today. I’ll call the school. You go back to bed.
I don’t want to.
You go to school or you go back to bed.
Don’t try me right now. The anger in her own voice scared her. The girl fled. Anika!
She called the school. Something going around. She was shaking. The anger in her voice sounded like her mother’s.
She lay in her bed, still with her school clothes on, and pressed her face into the pillow. Now the mother was gentle and stroked her back. The structure of her rib cage was like a pair of hands, each rib a slender finger. The little body contained a soul. She wasn’t crying, but her face was flushed.
Come let’s get you—
By Thomas Lux
Issue no. 87, Spring 1983
You must remove your sleepmask, haul it
from your eyes, sleep a white sleep without
slapping floodwaters—let it go,
let its thumbscrews loosen, let it unwind
like bandages (lily-flavored flesh
beneath, pearl-colored the pale
caused by)—lower it: sightseer
in oblivion, all the dumb
joy of death’s languorous leaning
over happy tombstones—send it downstream …
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