Interviews and Exchanges



Shorter Interviews


Jim Shepard and the Fear of Human Weakness
"I'm fascinated by the ways in which males act out their impulses and their aggressions on each others' bodies—it seems both compelling in and of itself and useful for something like fiction, which needs to dramatize and make concrete human conflict."
[with Jay Ponteri]


Kimiko Hahn: Luxuriant and Testing
"At one point in my life I was thinking how I was the designated family monster. So, I began to consider what a monster means. I researched monsters and 'wallowed' in them."
[with Emily Moore]


Pankaj Mishra, Intellectual and Spiritual Vagrant
"There are no public intellectuals in the real sense of the word....There are opinion-makers, security experts, hacks, ambitious academics, and most of them are compromised by their proximity to political power."
[with Wendy Cheng]


David Shields: The Danger Quotient
"In the search for self, or some semblance of self, it's good to have an open-ended form that can go absolutely anywhere—into reflection, into fancy, into reportage, into stand-up comedy, into any possible form that will deepen the investigation, which is all I care about."
[with Jay Ponteri]


Alice Notley: Stranger Still
"Beauty comes in all by itself, without your having to think about it."
[with Douglas A. Martin]























Longer Interviews


Jericho Brown: The Music the Work Makes in My Mind
"Many churches don't think Sunday service is complete without someone saying something meant to break you. If I'm going to get my heart broken, I want a lover to do it."
[with Alex Gallo-Brown]


Lila Azam Zanganeh and the Contagion of Happiness
"In one of his short stories, Nabokov talks about a pessimist and says that 'like all pessimists, he was a ridiculously unobservant man.' It's a strong sentence. It carries such faith in the intimate, hidden, mysterious, and almost mystical fabric of life. That's something I share with him very much."
[with Jesse Lichtenstein]


Harry Mathews: A Meal Should Last Forever
"When I was 14, I was at a beach party on Long Island with my mother and her friends, Mies van der Rohe, all kinds of fabulous people. We were all drinking jug Chianti, and it was pretty good. And I realized that this stuff could do something for me. So I started pursuing my mother's beautiful friends, chasing them into the water. We were all naked... nothing happened, alas."
[with Stuart Krimko]


Nina Revoyr's Los Angeles
"Whatever you're interested in, whether it's politics, race, immigration, labor, the environment, pop culture, or the inner city—all of it is not only happening here, but also seems to be coming to a head here all the time. There are an infinite number of stories that could be told."
[with Wendy Cheng]


Collaborators! Carlos M. Luis and Derek White
"It's a question of going back to the basics... and creating a combination of all sorts of signs, sounds, and words—some invented, others from different languages. Maybe now they don't have any meaning, but eventually those texts of mine will 'receive' meanings. By then who knows what new devices the poets will have at their disposal?"
[with Joyelle McSweeney]


Jonathan Raban: Home and Away
"Since September 2001, the world on the front doorstep has become so urgently absorbing that it seems like defection to travel away from it... for now I'm chained to this place, stranger and scarier at this moment than anywhere I've ever visited. Here is what I want to write about, not there, at present."
[with Owen Wozniak]


Michael John Garcés: A Point of Departure
"I'm not interested in the fourth wall, remotely, at all. I'm not interested in the artificiality of suspension of disbelief. Deal with what's really going on, which is a group of people in a room watching another group of people do something. We're all disbelieving. Dealing with that is interesting to me, as a writer and as a director."
[with Eisa Davis]


Sam Lipsyte Pans Out
"Everyone wants to be a writer, nobody wants to be a reader."
[with Gary Shteyngart]


Karen Tei Yamashita: A Twist on the Mix
"[In Brazil,] Japanese take their place in the color scheme of dark to light, displaying their own prejudices against the 'gaijin' while literally capitalizing on what they sell as a better version of being Brazilian."
[with Wendy Cheng]


Daniel Alarcón's Internal Migrations
"Of course I'm a poser. That's why I write fiction and not memoir. Every time you write you are projecting yourself into other folks' lives...it's just as difficult to create believable voices of a different gender or age as it is to inhabit voices of another class or culture."
[with Vinnie Wilhelm]


James Longenbach and the Whole Human Contraption
"To say that all poetry is against war is to give poets the benefit of the doubt—to assure us that the time we spend fiddling with words really is useful after all."
[with Jesse Lichtenstein]


Ammiel Alcalay and the Limits of Translation
"In our post-NAFTA world...Americans feel they have a right to literatures from other parts of the world, much like they have a right to Chilean cherries in New York in the middle of January."
[with Ramsey Scott]


David Means and the Secret Mystery
"There was a point in my life as a writer, actually a day, when I threw up my hands and began to write differently."
[with Jay Ponteri]


Paula Fox: A Certain Depth
"A lifetime isn't so long after all, and here I am still singing, in a raspier voice than when I began."
[with Jesse Lichtenstein]


















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