Well, Jonathan Safran Foer told The New York Times Magazine that he writes “in order to end [his] loneliness.” I write in order to prolong, and if possible to exacerbate Jonathan Safran Foer’s loneliness. I aim to embody a Jewish American authorial masculinity so totalizing, it not only takes his breath away, but all his friends, his wife, novelist Nicole Krauss, and their two children.
from Josh Axelrad’s self-interview on The Nervous Breakdown.
Read about Josh’s day in Atlantic City with Charles McGrath here.
Buy his book, too.
this series of interviews on the Paris Review’s website is the most guilt-free way to waste an entire morning on the internet. Barry Hannah’s one is really good, but I kind of like this Salman Rushdie interview, mostly because I wish I could sit down at the typewriter one day and just have Saleem Sinai’s voice pour out of me. What’s better than the first page of Midnight’s Children? SRSLY???
What was it about Saleem Sinai that released you?
The third-person narration wasn’t working, so I decided to try a first-person narrative, and there was a day when I sat down and I wrote more or less exactly what is now the first page of Midnight’s Children. It just arrived, this voice of Saleem’s: quite savvy, full of all kinds of arcana, funny but sort of ridiculous. I was electrified by what was coming out of my typewriter. It was one of those moments when you believe that the writing comes through you rather than from you. I saw how to drag in everything from the ancient traditions of India to the oral narrative form to, above all, the noise and the music of the Indian city. That first paragraph showed me the book. I held onto Saleem’s coattails and let him run…
from an interview with Gary Snyder in the Paris Review
Let’s get on to the writing and go back forty years or so. One of the amazing things about your work is that you seemed to burst on the scene fully formed with Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, which were published in 1959 and 1958 but written earlier in the fifties when you were in your twenties. The poems in both books are unmistakably Snyder poems, and apparently, unlike the rest of us, you are not embarrassed by the work of your youth, for you picked eighteen of the twenty-three poems in Riprap for your Selected Poems.
Actually the poems in Riprap are not the poems of my youth. Those are the poems that I’ve kept because those were the ones I felt were the beginning of my life as a poet. I started writing poems when I was fifteen. I wrote ten years of poetry before Riprap. Phase one: romantic teenage poetry about girls and mountains.
You’re still writing that!
I realized I shouldn’t have said that as soon as the words were out of my mouth.