The Paris Review

Guest List for Parties I Will Host When I’m Famous

A photo by Quentin Dr.

  • Lorin Stein and his entire family (including pets)
  • Teju Cole
  • Taro Gomi, author of Everybody Poops
  • Jack Nicholson
  • My running mate for President of the United States, a seagull
  • Bill Clinton
  • John McPhee
  • My cousin Earl
  • Lena Dunham, of Girls
  • Michael Cunningham
  • Ann Beattie 
  • Kanye West
  • This penguin, who wears a backpack full of fish
  • Marty, the Alaskan ranger from the program Mountain Men
  • The ghost of Truman Capote
  • Melvin, the man who stands on the corner outside the 24-hour deli

…and you! You can RSVP to be placed on the guest list @City_Sasquatch or at

Interview of the Month: Jonathan Franzen

ONE USE ONLY FOR SEVEN jonathan franzen photographed for seven by jonathan frantini

Among the curious tidbits scattered among the larger morsels in The Paris Review‘s 2010 interview with blockbuster author Jonathan Franzen for that journal’s series titled The Art of Fiction, we might find:

  • The six books on Franzen’s desk at UC Santa Cruz – Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, four works by John Steinbeck, and a study of William Faulkner.
  • His stance on the writing process: “The writer’s life is a life of revisions.”
  • The two emotions associated closely with writer’s block: “Shame and fear.”
  • Word most hated by Msr. Franzen: Creative.
  • A speech that highly influenced the author: Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Nobel acceptance speech.
  • His most surprisingly un-writerly admission: “I just like attention, I do!”
  • And finally, the length in pages of Franzen’s manuscript of his first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, completed when he was twenty-five: Thirteen hundred.

A florid bow to The Review Review‘s founder and editress, Becky Tuch, for recommending this article in a profile of Tuch at The Missouri Review blog.

Plimpton. George Plimpton.


As alluded to earlier this week, I’d like to share with you a particularly glittery list from the unmined ore deposit of the literate webternets.

Over at The Awl, Patrick Iber shares a list of the best “Literary Magazines for Socialists Funded by the CIA.” Yes, the best. I know you’ve been waiting for this, just as I have. In fact, this explains Bernie Sanders’ anxiety during public speaking engagements. Anticipation frays the nerves like nothing else.

The Paris Review’s appearance on this list was no surprise. It’s funding by the CIA was no secret. But I’d never heard of the Mundo Nuevo. Have you?

Read it over and let me know if you think the list is accurate. Thanks to The Review Review for sharing this wonderful article.

David Gates’ “Locals”

Paris Review fall 2014

A wonderfully conversational story by David Gates in the Fall 2014 issue of The Paris Review has me thinking about the many manifestations of effective dialogue in fiction. Gates’ piece, “Locals,” is written in the voice of a general contractor living in a small “hill town” in Western Massachusetts. The vocabulary and cadences of speech are a strength of the story. For example, here is Johnny, one of the narrator’s employees, ordering food at a bar (Johnny has been flirting with a female server, who is suddenly replaced by a less amiable woman):

“‘What happened to your friend?’ Johnny said.

‘She went on break. What can I get you?’

‘Cheeseburger well,’ I said. ‘With fries? And a cup of clam chowder.'”

Heed the idiosyncratic words of the narrator. He inflects a statement as though it were a question. I have heard this described in various circles as ‘uptalking,’ a speech pattern that imbues the simplest declarations with a charming indecision.

As a working (ahem) writer, I must take a page from David Gates and attempt to write more realistic dialogue. This becomes all the more important, now that my memoir, Beautiful On The Outside, enters its 32nd (self-imposed) revision. I’m sure my hypothetical editor (Lorin Stein, cough cough) will appreciate it when all is said and done.