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This week, The Paris Review is feeling leisurely and lethargic and embracing the idea of daydreams. Read on for Samuel R. Delany’s Art of Fiction interview, Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s short story “Honeymoon,” and Mary Jo Bang’s poem “Q Is the Quick.”
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Samuel R. Delany, The Art of Fiction No. 210
Issue no. 197, Summer 2011
Today I’m a five-o’clock-in-the-morning riser. Although I do stare at the wall a lot.
Stare at the wall?
I think of myself as a very lazy writer, though other people see it differently. My daughter, who recently graduated from medical school, once told me, “Dad, I’ve never known anyone who works as hard as you. You’re up at four, five o’clock in the morning, you work all day, then you collapse. At nine o’clock, you’re in bed, then you’re up the next morning at four to start all over again.”
Gide says somewhere that art and crime both require leisure time to flourish. I spend a lot of time thinking, if not daydreaming. People think of me as a genre writer, and a genre writer is supposed to be prolific. Since that’s how people perceive me, they have to say I’m prolific. But I don’t find that either complimentary or accurate.
By Jessi Jezewska Stevens
Issue no. 228, Spring 2019
To be fair, I can’t really say that I enjoy vacations. I’m on vacation all the time, so when I’m away it feels like work. I am a jewelry consultant at a five-star hotel, where I tend to a nook filled with gems. All week long I daydream to the sound of heels clacking across a polished marble floor. My mind melts. I could be miles away. I could be at the beach! Occasionally the phone rings, and then there’s some real excitement—a guest is placing an order for a surprise. The rest is a breeze. I take lunch twice. At two, I put a sign on the door and go for a jog. BE BACK SOON. No one seems to mind.
Q Is the Quick
By Mary Jo Bang
Issue no. 186, Fall 2008
“The quick brown fox jumps
Over the lazy dog”: It was a little bedtime story
And it was only told us if we would “be quiet.”
But quiet was a difficult thing to be.
The heart makes a jump-start sound.
Each time someone comes up the steps—
Both their feet give off the white grate of shoe leather
As it meets a stair. They wanted us also to “be happy”—
Which was even more difficult
In view of the sad fact
That happiness is part of a pair called a “smug set”;
Happiness plus some other benignly self-satisfied state.
The story, once we “deserved” it, began,
“Shh, be quiet,”
Just as the quick baby was about to leap …
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