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.
ELIAS KHOURY, IN 2007.
Elias Khoury began his 2017 Art of Fiction interview with the wry observation that “American reviewers read Arabic literature as if they’re reading the newspaper.” This week, we’re thinking—as we stare, helpless and sore-eyed, at our feeds—about the relationship between journalism and literature, and how artists, writers, and readers might respond to the news. Alongside Khoury’s interview, we revisit a short story by Stephen Minot, a Patricia Smith poem, and a portfolio of works from Peter and Annette Nobel’s collection of “press art.”
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The Art of Fiction No. 233
How do you continue to write novels when every day seems to bring news of some new atrocity or human calamity in your backyard?
I’ve lived my life under a state of near permanent war. I was born in 1948 and have vivid memories of the “small” civil war of 1958. The defeat of 1967 brought me to political consciousness. And I began writing novels during the first years of our major civil war. I try not to write about war, but to write from within it. One has to write through these calamities and atrocities. I think it’s good practice—for writing and for living—but it isn’t ever easy.
From issue no. 220 (Spring 2017)
YOUSHEN WANG, NEWSPAPER (WASHING SERIES) (DETAIL), 1993/2007, COLOR PHOTOGRAPH AND WATER, 46 ½” X 30 ⅔”.
Reading the News—Keeping Informed
We vary in our sources, but we all keep up on current events. That’s something we share. We and our wives are conversant with every major development. We read and we discuss. We vary in our political persuasions just as we do in taste—some cautious, some tending toward the flamboyant, like reading the Manchester Guardian, overseas edition. But being informed is something we all share. It’s a moral obligation with us.
From issue no. 72 (Winter 1977)
TOMI UNGERER, UNTITLED, CA. 1960, NEWSPAPER, INK, AND GOUACHE ON PAPER, 12 ⅛” X 9 1/16″.
Always in the Head
There are times I hate being a reporter.
I am afraid of the stories.
The voices are too real, the colors too strong.
I rewind the tape, open another computer file,
hear my son yell good-bye
and slam the door on his way out.
I run to the window. Yes, his head is covered.
From issue no. 124 (Fall 1992)
DANIELA KEISER, BOTANIK (DETAILS), 2012, COLOR PHOTOGRAPH ON ALUMINUM, 7″ X 10 ½”.
The nineteenth century saw a number of artworks in which people read newspapers to themselves or, supposedly out loud, to a small audience, sometimes a family. Then the Cubists—Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris—started collaging daily newspapers into their works. These artists undertook a new style of painting, one that would explore synthetic abstraction and, equally, society’s relationship with technology. They took the newspaper as an advanced technical means of modernity and an expression of continuous change: news of the day—every day.
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