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Posts Tagged ‘The Paris Review’

“I write for myself and that reader who will pay the dues. There’s a phrase in West Africa, in Ghana; it’s called ‘deep talk.’ For instance, there’s a saying: ‘The trouble for the thief is not how to steal the chief’s bugle but where to blow it.’ Now, on the face of it, one understands that. But when you really think about it, it takes you deeper. In West Africa they call that ‘deep talk.’ I’d like to think I write ‘deep talk.’ When you read me, you should be able to say, Gosh, that’s pretty. That’s lovely. That’s nice. Maybe there’s something else? Better read it again. Years ago I read a man named Machado de Assis who wrote a book called Dom Casmurro. Machado de Assis is a South American writer—black father, Portuguese mother—writing in 1865, say. I thought the book was very nice. Then I went back and read the book and said, Hmm. I didn’t realize all that was in that book. Then I read it again, and again, and I came to the conclusion that what Machado de Assis had done for me was almost a trick: he had beckoned me onto the beach to watch a sunset. And I had watched the sunset with pleasure. When I turned around to come back in I found that the tide had come in over my head. That’s when I decided to write. I would write so that the reader says, That’s so nice. Oh boy, that’s pretty. Let me read that again. I think that’s why Caged Bird is in its twenty-first printing in hardcover and its twenty-ninth in paper.
Maya Angelou
the Paris Review interview with George Plimpton

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“I wonder, when a writer’s blocked and doesn’t have any resources to pull himself out of it, why doesn’t he jump in his car and drive around the U.S.A.? I went last winter for seven thousand miles and it was lovely. Inexpensive, too.”
Jim Harrison (Legends of the Fall)
Poet/Novelist/Screenwriter
Quoted in The Paris Review, 1988 

Much more on Harrison—who was raised in rural Northern Michigan—tomorrow. 

Scott W. Smith

 

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