Unlike some magazines, we don’t do “theme” issues. And yet, as we collected the material that makes up 201, we couldn’t help notice that the issue had a decidedly … dramatic bent. Not just interviews with Tony Kushner and Wallace Shawn, but Ann Beattie’s story, “The Astonished Woodchopper,” featuring just that; a Sam Lipsyte story about a modern-day duel; Roberto Bolaño poems about sex and betrayal; Rich Cohen on pirates; Waris Ahluwalia on animal attraction; Davy Rothbart telling the true story of the best night of his life; plus, J.D. Daniels directing you to eat your parents.
In some ways the Internet is definitely an enemy. This morning I was going to work on a Lincoln rewrite before I came to meet you. A couple of days ago I biked all over Provincetown looking for a needle threader—you know, one of those old-fashioned little tin discs with a cameo on it and a thin wire loop sticking out. I found one and bought it. I’m trying to teach myself how to needlepoint. I even considered bringing my needlepointing here, needlepointing during the interview, but then what would you think? Anyway, I bought this needle threader, but it was crap–two uses into it, the thing broke. So, this morning before working on Lincoln, I decided I would go online and find a really good needle threader. And who knew that on Amazon alone, there are dozens of needle threaders? So I started thinking, Why does this needle threader have five starts and this one four and a half? And this one only has two, isn’t that interesting? Can you imagine who got this needle threader and was really disappointed? And then, it’s like, Oh my God, it’s ten o’clock! I didn’t do any work.
I wish there were more plays about a life that is exactly like mine. I would love that! If the program says, ‘An apartment in Manhattan today,’ I’m thrilled! And if it says, ‘An apartment in Chelsea, in Manhattan, today,’ where I live, I’d be even more thrilled. I’m amazed if I can see an actor imitate someone with a French accent—that’s fantastic—and I’m even more excited if an actor can illuminate the psychological state of a person similar to me and the people I know. So I do like naturalistic theater. But I like many kinds of theater.
Plus, poetry from John Ashbery, Sophie Cabot Black, Raúl Zurita, Octavio Paz, Lucie Brock-Broido, and David Ferry; nonfiction by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya; and a new translation of Virgil.