To a very particular sort of person, the Paris Review “Art of Fiction” & “Art of Poetry” interviews are pure heroin. Heroin as endorsed by Keith Richards, whispering in your ear, “You’ll never die. It opens the doors of perception. It’s better than everything else in the universe.”
I am exactly this kind of person.
This is why I fucking love Picador’s The Paris Review Interviews Vol. I-IV. To celebrate the arrival of Volume IV, they’re pressing a limited run of box sets of the whole shebang. Like, only 500 copies. And word is most are sold already via pre-order. I’m lucky enough to work with Picador, so I have my volumes. They’re well-thumbed and much-loved.
Some choice lines:
“The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.” -William Faulkner
“On the eve of the first day I know what will happen in the first chapter. Then, day after day, chapter after chapter, I find what comes later. After I have started a novel I write a chapter each day, without ever missing a day. Because it is a strain, I have to keep pace with the novel. If, for example, I am ill for forty-eight hours, I have to throw away the previous chapters. And I never return to that novel.” -Georges Simenon
“I describe. I write. Now as for the color yellow, there is a physical explanation of that. When I began to lose my sight, the last color I saw was yellow, because it is the most vivid of colors. That’s why you have the Yellow Cab Company in the United States. At first they thought of making the cars scarlet. Then somebody found out that at night or when there was a fog that yellow stood out in a more vivid way. . . . Now when I began to lose my eyesight, when the world began to fade away from me, there was a time among my friends . . . well, they poked fun at me because I was always wearing yellow neckties. Then they thought I really liked yellow although it really was too glaring. I said, ‘Yes, to you, but not to me, because it is the only color I can see, practically!’ I live in a grey world, rather like the silver screen world. But yellow stands out.” -Jorge Luis Borges
Anytime I’m feeling over-extended, tired of publishing, or bleary-eyed from reading all day, I’ll pick up an interview at random. I get my fix; I’m good for another month. Haven’t OD’d yet!