From Publishers Weekly
Each of the 23 interviews in this exquisite collection-diplomatically arranged in interviewee alphabetical order-begins with a pithy introduction by the interviewer, noting something anecdotal of the subject's life and work, suggesting thematic commitments that drew interviewer to interviewee and noting the location as well as the interview method employed, from "via the U.S. postal system-I would send him questions on separate pieces of paper, and he would type the answers and send them back," to "The following conversation took place on an old Toshiba calculator." The project's formal structure ends there; what follows is a book in which writers chat uninhibited and present the "writing life" with deep, measured enthusiasm ("Here I am starting a new book," says John Banville. "This is the absolute best stage of it... you might actually get it right this time"), self-deprecating absurdity ("Gaining in gravitas?" Adam Thirlwell asks Tom Stoppard on the subject of weight-gain), or unexpected poignancy (as when Jamaica Kincaid gushes "oh gosh" when asked about her aspirations). The volume is at its strongest when fledgling literati interrogate well-established literary giants-like Nell Freudenberger's sisterly conversation with Grace Paley, or Dave Eggers's respectfully warm tête-à-tête with Joan Didion-and when strong-voiced writers with distinctly different projects (Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan, or ZZ Packer and Edward P. Jones) pair off to explore what drives their work.
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About the Author
Vendela Vida is the author of the novels And Now You Can Go, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, and Girls on the Verge. She lives in Northern California.