There’s a certain weather-beaten tree stump at Ghost Ranch—the U-shaped, adobelike home once occupied by the famed American Modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe—where Josephine Halvorson, the first artist-in-residence at Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, often took breaks from her own work. It offered her a clear view of Cerro Pedernal, the narrow New Mexican mesa that appears in many of O’Keeffe’s desert paintings, and where the artist’s ashes are scattered. From here Halvorson could observe weather patterns forming around the mesa’s caprock, circling the top and then sweeping theatrically down its cliff face, racing across the plain toward her. Read More
My formative understanding of world events had two acts: the ancient history conveyed in the Bible and the modern arc approximated at Disneyland, which opened in Southern California in 1955, four and a half decades before my first visit.
I was ten. My mom and I took a 4:30 A.M. Greyhound bus from Sacramento for the fifteen-hour ride through the Central Valley, past fruit fields, oil rigs, and speed traps, around the Grapevine Hills, and into Anaheim. My mom slept or prayed the rosary most of the way, while I reviewed the two-day game plan I’d drawn up on a piece of binder paper, which I kept in my pocket, folded four times over for protection. Read More
We’ve missed you, and we know what you’re probably thinking: Why is there no Fall issue of The Paris Review? Has the staff taken some kind of sabbatical? Perhaps they have given up on print altogether? (There is, as you might have heard, a national paper shortage.) I am here to assure you that we have not absconded to a Greek island, nor have we (just) been curled up with cups of tea.
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.
This week at The Paris Review, we’re writing about reading, and reading about writing. Read on for Enrique Vila-Matas’s Art of Fiction interview, Kate Zambreno’s short story “Plagiarism,” a piece of fiction by Chekhov called “What You Usually Find in Novels,” Gevorg Emin’s poem “The Block,” and a portfolio of Richard Prince art from 1978.
Enrique Vila-Matas, The Art of Fiction No. 247
Issue no. 234 (Fall 2020)
The kind of writer I like best is the one who has, at some stage, been a critic, and who at a certain point realizes that if he really wanted to honor literature he must immediately himself become a writer—step inside the bullring and prolong, by other means, what was always at stake in literature.
Biography is always a matter of joining holes together, like a net, for reasons that W. G. Sebald’s own work explores: the fallibility of memory, the death or disappearance of witnesses, the dubious role of the narrator. All these reasons must exercise any biographer. But Sebald’s biographer more than most. For the holes in the net of this story are many.
The central absence is his family life, because his widow wishes to keep this private. Without her permission, his words from privately held sources, such as certain letters, cannot be quoted, only paraphrased. Even his published words, in books and interviews, can be quoted only within the limits laid down by the law.
Four years after its first chapter was published on SB Nation in 2017, Jon Bois’s serialized multimedia novella 17776: The Future of Football is still my favorite (and some of the only) “new media” lit online. Told through text interspersed with video and graphics that mix satellite imagery, newspaper clippings, and Telestrated sports-field diagrams, the story follows the sentient space probe Pioneer 9 as it flies over the United States of the future: a land in which no one dies any more, but everyone still loves football. With their newfound immortality, Americans have developed more and more baroque constellations of rules for their favorite game, sending their players on elaborate, millennia-long scavenger hunts across the country. An epic reminiscent of Infinite Jest, it’s a dazzlingly idiosyncratic work of art that is equal parts exercise in speculative game design, history of a dying empire, and fable about the meaning of play, humanity, and technology. But 17776 isn’t just an experiment with form; Bois is a startlingly sensitive writer, and scrolling through his simple, color-coded dialogue feels like looking at the 1967 photo of Earth taken by an astronaut on the Apollo 8 mission: lonely, but awe-inducing. —Olivia Kan-Sperling Read More