Interviews with Venturous Writers
October 12, 2008 11:46 AM   Subscribe

sweet. i love the dalkey archive.
posted by ifjuly at 12:02 PM on October 12, 2008

Some great stuff there, though it's a shame the interviews often aren't contextualized at all (where did this conversation take place, under what circumstances? and when, especially?). After a little poking around I'd like to point out the Samuel R. Delany interview as especially worth a read, starting from his list of interview questions he dislikes, an answer that probably many of the other authors would also like to subscribe to:
I suppose the questions I don't like include: "What makes a good plot?" "What’s your definition of SF?" "Where do you get your ideas?"

When an interviewer asks me such questions, I have to reconstruct why I don't believe there is such a thing as plot for the writer in the usual sense; or why SF belongs to a category of object, as do all written genres, for which it is impossible to find necessary and sufficient conditions (that is, it belongs to a category of object that resists definition in the rigorous sense of the word); or that ideas are not things but—even the simplest of them—complex processes and as such don’t "come from" any "place" but are rather process-responses to any number of complex situations.
posted by RogerB at 12:13 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nice. Cortazar on Hopscotch (spoilers):

To say he doesn’t kill himself is to destroy the book. The idea is that you or any other reader must decide. So you decide, the same as I, that Oliveira does not commit suicide. But there are readers who decide he does. Well, too bad for them. The reader is the accomplice, he has to decide.
posted by juv3nal at 12:55 PM on October 12, 2008

Wow. I loved that Burroughs interview. Especially his assessment that Queer was "amateurish". I couldn't disagree more. Queer is one of the first books of his that I recommend to people who are used to a straight (ha!) narrative. It's an emotionally raw book, sometimes wincingly so as you read the protagonist repeatedly embarrass himself for love, and largely autobiographical, which might explain Burroughs' distaste for it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:57 PM on October 12, 2008

Thanks for the post Iridic. Some good reading.

oooh, I like this one: A Conversation with David Foster Wallace By Larry McCaffery linked in your OP.

U.S. viewers’ relationship with TV is essentially puerile and dependent, as are all relationships based on seduction.

huh. That's a zinger I need to think about. Wonder what it means?

ooh, another zinger:

I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

Anecdote: In 1974, when Samuel (Chip) Delany was living in London with his wife, Marilyn Hacker and newborn daughter, my boyfriend at that time and I interviewed him for, I think, the literary magazine we started then, called Sixpack. Chip looked like this, not as he does now.

Honestly, I can't remember what the interview was for but Chip was, I do remember, an intense, interesting man. His wife was very quiet and gentle, their newborn, Iva, beautiful. I loved that Chip and Marilyn were both such science geeks, having both attended the Bronx High School of Science at the same time, both gay/bisexual, both writers, both born in the same year. I remember thinking it would be interesting to be their child.
posted by nickyskye at 3:38 PM on October 12, 2008

It's worth saying again : R.I.P. D.F.W.
posted by mannequito at 4:26 PM on October 12, 2008

Excellent post.
posted by plexi at 8:12 PM on October 12, 2008

The Queneau interview was an interesting intervention into a problematic that's increasingly been dogging my work as a book reviewer. I don't quite agree with his characterisations — and I'd venture to suggest he wouldn't want that anyway, valuing the multiple over the singular as he does — but it's provocative and useful to me in a very personal way. So, as ever, love your work, Ray.
posted by Wolof at 10:43 PM on October 12, 2008

nickyskye: huh. That's a zinger I need to think about. Wonder what it means?

He goes into this at length in "E unibus pluram: television and U.S. fiction".
posted by cog_nate at 1:38 PM on October 13, 2008

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