Janet Malcolm: The Art of Nonfiction
July 25, 2011 5:54 AM   Subscribe

"I can’t imagine a nonfiction writer who wasn’t influenced by the fiction he or she had read. But the “thriller-like pacing” you find in my writing may come more from my own beat than from thrillers. I walk fast and am impatient. I get bored easily—no less with my own ideas than with those of others. Writing for me is a process of constantly throwing out stuff that doesn’t seem interesting enough. I grew up in a family of big interrupters." Janet Malcolm interviewed by Katie Roiphe in The Paris Review.
posted by escabeche (6 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Trurl at 6:00 AM on July 25, 2011

The Journalist and the Murderer was great. Has she done anything else that good that I should read?
posted by meadowlark lime at 6:42 AM on July 25, 2011

I love Janet Malcolm's writing. Thanks for posting this.
posted by blucevalo at 6:54 AM on July 25, 2011

Has she done anything else that good that I should read?

The Silent Woman is to biography what Godel's Incompleteness Theorems are to logic: definitive and worrying.
posted by Trurl at 6:59 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Neat. I can't wait to read this. Thanks.
posted by Skygazer at 8:21 AM on July 25, 2011

Big fan of Malcolm. I loved The Journalist and the Murderer, In the Freud Archives, Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession, The Silent Woman, and The Crime of Sheila McGough.

But her latest, Iphigenia in Forest Hills, left me cold. And in the ways it wasn't successful, it exposed some of her "tics" (for lack of a better word) that made me view her past books in a lesser light. One of the things she does is look into arcane areas of discourse or practice (psychoanalysis, law, poetry) and then claim to have found the essence of what the learned practitioners are doing. And I think that the more you know about the area of practice, the less you are impressed with her breathless reports of what is "really going on" in these fields. I'm not totally sure about this but that's how I felt after I read Iphigenia in Forest Hills. It was a depiction of law and criminal justice that might convince a lay person as being very penetrating and astute, but seems bullshitty to me as a criminal defense lawyer.
posted by jayder at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2011

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