Ever since I started editing The Paris Review, I’ve wished we could interview Merle Haggard. No songwriter means as much to me. Unfortunately, the Review doesn’t have a series on the Art of Songwriting (and for good reasons), so for the past six years I just wished. Then last Friday, at a friend’s wedding, I met a country deejay named Rebecca Birmingham. We happened to start talking about Merle and how much his songs moved us both, how true they were to experience, how original they sound even now. We both knew he was in poor health, he’d been in poor health for years, but she had a friend who’d know how to get in touch … Four days later we got the news that he was dead. Read More
Readers of the Review know that the Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier is one of our favorite young directors. (See Issue 203 for a discussion of his first two features, Reprise and Oslo, August 31st.) His new English-language debut, Louder than Bombs, stars Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne, and Jesse Eisenberg. Last week we caught up with Trier and Eisenberg for a conversation that ranged from Knut Hamsun to The Karate Kid to David Foster Wallace. We also talked about the making of Louder than Bombs. Read More
As Paris Review subscribers know, every once in a while we serialize a novel. That is, we publish it in sections, usually over the course of a year, with recaps to bring new readers up to date. And we hire the best illustrators we can find—a stable that has included Tom Keogh, Leanne Shapton, Samantha Hahn, and a young “Andrew” Warhol.
Over the past five years, we’ve brought you a lost work by Roberto Bolaño, a breakout novel by Rachel Cusk, and, most recently, the winner of this year’s Terry Southern Prize for Humor—a football novel for people who don’t know the rules—The Throwback Special, by Chris Bachelder, with illustrations by Jason Novak.
This month, The Throwback Special came out in hardcover—and the crowd, as they say, went wild. The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it “2016’s first Great Book … A wise, patient examination of American culture.” The Los Angeles Times praises its “poignant comic magic … powerful, intelligent, and entertaining.” And now the New York Times Book Review has weighed in: “Wistful and elegantly written … The Throwback Special conjures the rewarding melancholy of Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe novels.”
Don’t miss the next great book of 2016, or years to come—subscribe now!
Starting with our Summer Issue, the novelist and critic Adam Thirlwell will join The Paris Review as London editor—our first in ten years. In that time, we’ve been admiring Adam’s fiction and criticism, as well as his editorial work for McSweeney’s. (In 2010, we sent him to interview Václav Havel, alas too late.) We’re not the only ones, of course. Granta chose him as one of its best young British novelists—twice—and he was recently chosen by Salman Rushdie and Colm Tóibín for the E. M. Forster Award, given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters to a young British writer. Despite his much-belaureled youth, Adam is the author of three novels and a study of cross-cultural influence in fiction, The Delighted States.* It seems particularly fitting, therefore, to launch his tenure with our special issue on the art of translation, featuring new work from half a dozen languages.
In the same issue, careful readers will notice another change to our masthead. Susannah Hunnewell, our longtime Paris editor, has been named publisher of the Review. As Paris editor, Susannah interviewed Kazuo Ishiguro, Harry Mathews, Michel Houellebecq, and Emmanuel Carrère; in our new issue, she interviews the translating duo Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. A former editor at George and Marie Claire, Susannah began her career as a Paris Review intern, a fact she shares in common with our departing publisher, her husband, Antonio Weiss, who left the Review earlier this year to become Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. (We won’t think of it as losing a beloved publisher or a brilliant foreign correspondent, but as gaining one of each.)
We congratulate Adam and Susannah—and wish them joy in their new hats!
*Full subtitle: A Book of Novels, Romances, & Their Unknown Translators, Containing Ten Languages, Set on Four Continents, & Accompanied by Maps, Illustrations, & a Variety of Helpful Indexes
Although Rachel Cusk’s Outline has not been available in hardcover until today, it’s already enjoyed a wild succès d’estime with some of our favorite critics. Last Wednesday, in the New York Times, Dwight Garner called it “transfixing … You find yourself pulling the novel closer to your face, as if it were a thriller and the hero were dangling over a snake pit.” In The New Yorker, Elaine Blair used Outline as the occasion for a trenchant essay on fiction and autobiography:
The novel is mesmerizing; it marks a sharp break from the conventional style of Cusk’s previous work … Cusk’s insight in Outline is that, instead of trying to show two sides of a marriage, she might do the opposite: focus on the inevitable, treacherous one-sidedness of any single account [which] surely has something to do with why marriages themselves come apart.
In the Guardian, Hilary Mantel described Outline as “fascinating, both on the surface and in its depths.” Bookforum’s Hannah Tennant-Moore called it “lovely … smart, ascetic”; and in the most recent New York Times Book Review Heidi Julavits raved: “Spend much time with this novel and you’ll become convinced [Cusk] is one of the smartest writers alive.”
None of this will come as news to readers of The Paris Review—because, starting with our Winter 2013 issue, we published Outline in its entirety, with exclusive illustrations by Samantha Hahn. Here’s a slide show to celebrate the U.S. hardcover publication, and to remind our colleagues in the reviewing business where they can find the most transfixing, mesmerizing, fascinating, lovely fiction of 2016.
This essay prefaces Matteo Pericoli’s Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views, out this week. We’ve featured Matteo’s work for years on the Daily, and his sketch of the view from our old office graced the cover of our Summer 2011 issue. To celebrate his new book, we’re offering that issue for only eight dollars, and only until Thanksgiving. We’re also holding a Windows on the World contest—submit a photo of your view and you could win a sketch by Matteo.
Can you picture John Kennedy Toole, the author of A Confederacy of Dunces? I can’t. Say his name and I see his hero, Ignatius Reilly. How about Willa Cather? What comes to mind isn’t a person at all—it’s raindrops in New Mexico “exploding with a splash, as if they were hollow and full of air.” What did Barbara Pym look like, or Rex Stout, or Boris Pasternak, or the other writers whose paperbacks filled our parents’ bedside tables? In most cases we have no idea, because until recently, the author photo was relatively rare. You could sell a million copies and still, to those million readers, you’d be a name without a face.
Things are different now. Nearly every first novel comes with a glamour shot, not to mention a publicity campaign on Facebook. The very tweeters have their selfies. We still talk about a writer’s “vision,” but in practice we have turned the lens around, and turned the seer into something seen. Read More