Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The how of literature

The Paris Review interviews with 300 writers over fifty years are an incredible resource and inspiration. The Paris Review website says: 'Taken together, these conversations with novelists, poets, playwrights, essayists, biographers, journalists, and critics constitute what Salman Rushdie calls “the finest available inquiry into the ‘how’ of literature.”

Here's Graham Greene on writing character: 'No, one never knows enough about characters in real life to put them into novels. One gets started and then, suddenly, one cannot remember what toothpaste they use, what are their views on interior decoration, and one is stuck utterly. No, major characters emerge: minor ones may be photographed. '

And Rushdie on starting a novel: 'When I’m in my room with the door shut, nothing signifies except what I’m trying to wrestle with. Writing’s too hard, it just requires so much of you, and most of the time you feel dumb. I always think you start at the stupid end of the book, and if you’re lucky you finish at the smart end. When you start out, you feel inadequate to the task. You don’t even understand the task.'

Here is the archive of interviews with writers as diverse as Truman Capote, Dorothy Parker and T.S. Eliot. Make sure to tell a friend or family member before you click the mouse, however, as there is every likelihood you will never return.


Gondal-girl said...

thanks Mary, didn't know it was online - have seen the collated essays of Paris review...website may be a taster....

Joanne Ganley said...

Interesting! Valuable stuff. I'm supposed to be cooking dinner but this is so much better. Ooops,forgot to tell the hubby!