I’m curious to see what changes, if any, will show up in The Paris Review now that Phillip Gourevitch is no more and Lorin Stein has taken over. So far, it seems about the same, but we shall see …. I sometimes read the fiction, but man it better be damned great, and I pretty much always skip the poetry — sorry, poets — and jump straight to the interview (or interviews as can be the case). The interviews are what I really pay for.
One of my great obsessions is biography and memoir, and these author interrogations drag me joyfully right down that same rabbit hole. In this latest issue, we have interviews with Jonathan Franzen and Louise Erdrich, both of whom hail from Minnesota. On purpose? Admittedly, I’m a bit Franzen-ed out. Nothing to do with Franzen personally, but overexposure really can be the worst, and when you’ve got Oprah, the Time cover, all manner of gushing at the NYT, etc…. well, you see what I mean. A girl can get worn out before she even opens your book! But I digress. I’m going to read Erdrich’s interview first and see what she has to say. Her sister, also a writer, came to visit a class of mine at the University of Minnesota around 1998 and I remember feeling so, so bad for her. “Your sister is Louise Erdrich!” my mind kept screaming. How tough would that be?
There’s a fascinating, if terribly sad and tragic, backstory of Erdrich’s marriage to Michael Dorris, a professor she encountered as an undergrad at Dartmouth. Reading this article and a few others, it’s a wonder Louise Erdrich had the time to write anything during her married — with 6 children — years.
If you’re looking for more interviews, check out this collection of The Paris Review interviews, a boxed-set favorite. God knows they’ve talked to everybody who’s anybody, writer-wise, and frankly their files from the 60’s and 70’s — when everyone seemed tortured and totally nuts, but off-the-charts freakin’ brilliant — are to die for.