As many people noted yesterday, the Paris Review has freed up its stellar collection of author interviews, making them available in full online. It’s still not quite preferable to having the four-volume set of the Paris Review interviews, which I’d still suggest you pay cash money for—the sample manuscript pages reproduce better there, for one thing. But it’s hard to complain about having so much great material available instantaneously. For instance, here’s Rick Moody on whether he considers himself an American writer:
What else could I be? I guess to be an American writer means, uh, that I have dined multiply at drive-through windows and that I have no choice but to occasionally darken the inside of a shopping mall, and that I come from a country of former slave-owners, and that I feel the Manhattan Project as a blot on my conscience that I will never expiate, and that there is something in baseball that I think is close to my heart (it was once a Native American game), and it means that I daily have contact with guys who think that our government exists only in order to hinder the magnanimous philanthropic work of large corporations, and it means that there’s constant vacillation in my head between the ethical messages of Judeo-Christianity and a desire to cast off these messages entirely, and it means, hmm, that I like artificial cheese food products, and it means that I conceive of nature as an expanse of space, and it means that I believe that spirituality is best experienced in landscapes emptied of human beings, and it means that I like to spin the dial on a television set, just can’t stop myself from spinning that dial, and it means that I only speak one language well, and it means that I don’t mind listening to people on the street talking incessantly about stock prices, and it means that I look to Europe for a definition of the high arts, and it means that I sometimes can’t tell the difference between high and low arts, and it means that the sentimental reiteration of family as the origin of all good is never far from my mind, even though I resist this idea entirely, and it means I know a lot about cars, and it means that I can talk for half an hour about the best kind of computer, and it means that I have a lot of opinions about the best operating system for a computer, and it means that I prefer music with guitars to music with electronic keyboards, and it means that I think ketchup is a vegetable, and it means that I am to some degree or other worried about my weight, and it means I believe strongly in ministorage and the ministorage way of life, and it means I can’t imagine anyone would disagree with all these American things. Guess it means a lot of things, huh?
I confess I’m not picking Moody at random: Like every good American, I have a sales pitch. If you’re in the Washington, DC, area and are free tonight, please consider paying a visit to the George Mason University campus: As part of my work on the board of the National Book Critics Circle, I’ve helped put together a panel discussion tonight on the next decade in book culture for GMU’s Fall for the Book festival. The panel features Moody along with four bright DC-area literary folk: Sarah Courteau of the Wilson Quarterly, Allan Fallow of AARP The Magazine, Britt Peterson of Foreign Policy magazine, and moderator Bethanne Patrick, host of the Book Studio. The panel starts at 6 p.m. and runs till 7:15 p.m. at GMU’s Johnson Center Cinema; stick around after the panel for a reading by Moody, who’ll be joined by Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad. Admission is free; hope you can make it.