Customer Reviews: The Paris Review Interviews, I
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HALL OF FAMEon January 7, 2007
I have read tens of 'Paris Review Interviews' and once had almost all the volumes they put out.
This volume selects sixteen of the reviews including a number which for me were most memorable. ( Borges, Bellow, Hemingway,)

The total list is:
Dorothy Parker (1956)
Truman Capote (1957)
Ernest Hemingway (1958)
T. S. Eliot (1959)
Saul Bellow (1966)
Jorge Luis Borges (1967)
Kurt Vonnegut (1977)
James M. Cain (1978)
Rebecca West (1981)
Elizabeth Bishop (1981)
Robert Stone (1985)
Robert Gottlieb (1994)
Richard Price (1996)
Billy Wilder (1996)
Jack Gilbert (2005)
Joan Didion (2006)
Aside from the writers I have named I would have preferred a collection containing other interviews, including the famous one with Faulkner.
I would just like to point out the strange reversal of roles which has occurred in our Internet world. There are tens of Paris Review Interviews online, far more than are contained in this volume. It is almost as if the book here is a kind of toy, a mere adjunct to the total product which 'Paris Review Online' the Internet makes readily available to us.
I understand the value of having a volume to hold in one's hand. And like most people I would rather read from a book than from a screen. But the 'online business' takes away from the special pleasure one might have had once at getting a 'new book' of one's own.
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on January 9, 2007
Perhaps this might be an obvious statement, for as the title indicates this collection of works from the Paris Review is a collection of interviews, but one that I feel need be made nevertheless. In reading over this wonderful work that contains interviews with Borges, Parker, Hemingway, Capote, Eliot, as well as many other legends of literature and 20th century intellectual thought, the reader is able to discover a truer sense of voice behind these renowned authors. We are given an amazing portal into the minds of these artists that ranges from how they approach their work and their diverse influences, to simply how they might view their lives and world around them. I would recommend this text to any person with even the most casual interest in literature, and for those who wish to immerse themselves with such authors and thought, I think this collection would be a perfect companion.
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on October 12, 2009
If you've ever tried to write or even wondered about the creative writing
process these interviews will have you riveted. I expected some ego and
posturing and there is a bit but most of the authors are amazingly honest....even
Hemingway as he picks and chooses what he wants to discuss. Most delicious is
when these writers give their take on fellow writers. Here's an example from
Joan Didion, "There's a passage by Christopher Isherwood in a book of his called
`The Condor and the Crows', in which he describes arriving in Venezuela and
being astonished to think that it had been down there every day of his life."
Dorothy Parker says, "And I thought William Styron's `Lie Down in Darkness' an
extraordinary thing. The start of it took your heart and flung it over there."

Best of all are their observations:

"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, xxxx
detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it."

Ernest Hemingway

"But novel writing is something else. It has to be learned, but it can't be
taught. This bunkum and stinkum of college creative-writing courses! The
academics don't know that the only thing you can do for someone who wants to
write is to buy him a typewriter."

James M. Cain

"I had begun to lose patience with the conventions of writing. Descriptions
went first; in both fiction and nonfiction, I just got impatient with those long
paragraphs of description. By which I do not mean--obviously--the single detail
that gives you the scene. I'm talking about description as a substitute for

Joan Didion
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on August 31, 2014
No piece of writing gets so close to the heart of a writer as Paris Review Interviews. They are the most sophisticated interviews one can read. The magazine has successfully employed knowledgeable professionals to conduct the interviews because the person interviewing a writer must know the writer's work very well. I have read the four series of the interviews and enjoyed all of them. These interviews will tell you about the art of writing because being too theoretical - perhaps it all starts to sound very fake when one writes theories on art.
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on October 2, 2008
The flow of that Borges interview is fascinating. It seems done really in one sitting... honest, and unedited--unlike the most of the others, where, even in the introduction it is admitted that the interviewee had intervened so much in the final draft, the interviewee sometimes become one more interviewer... the writer/subject is interviewing himself/herself. (in any case, thats why many writers are willing to sit down for a Paris Review interview... because they are promised to have the final say on the output, if they so wish. even if deadlines are disregarded).

Then next best is Hemingway's. Bristling machismo in some of the answers. You see irritation, willingness to participate, then irritation again.

Then Billy Wilder's. It's amazing to discover that while he has been retired for so long when interviewed, he still has the wit and can recall personal events like it's yesterday. Im wondering now why he hadnt made a film for decades, but was still very involved in Holywood. (I gather from the interview that he still has an office he gets to everyday until he died).

The rest are of equal good quality. While not remarkable in total, there is always a question that is answered uniquely and interestingly by the subject writer. I have to admit though that Im not familiar with a number of them, and I still have 7 more to read though as of this writing.

Yes, the interviews are available online, but for 10 USD, you also get a good quality paper (used in the book), designed to last long. Nothing beats reading, leafing through the pages, and smelling a brilliant book. :-)
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on June 27, 2015
This book includes an interview of Ernest Hemingway conducted by George Plimpton. It appeared in The Paris Review in 1958. Since Hemingway was often reluctant to talk about his writing this is a fascinating read.
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on December 30, 2012
Want to be transported directly to the homes, writing dens and cozy book rooms of some of the greatest authors of the 20th century? If the fact that Hemingway wrote standing up interests you, read this book.
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on January 21, 2016
Enlightening "behind-the-scenes" interviews with some of the most prolific writers of the past century. Great read for any aspiring writer or creative.
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on July 24, 2011
These 16 interviews of literary giants are great for aspiring writers. The one of Hemingway is a classic, and the one of Parker hilarious. It's amazing to see the parallel between these authors' spoken and written words.
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on June 25, 2012
This series of interviews has two faults: One, it is limited to four volumes. Two, it is limited to writers who have never, or only by accident, written in one of today's most popular genres, crime fiction. Hoping to have corrected both of these faults in a few volumes of "The Crime Interviews" (The Crime Interviews: Volume One), I would like to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to Philip Gourevitch for giving so many worthy interviewers and interviewees a home in this collection.

What "The Paris Review Interviews" have shown is that a good interviewer's purpose is not to catch interviewees off guard, but to capture the fullest possible account of their writing lives; who they are, what they have done, and how they do what they do best.

The result to date is more than a collection in four volumes. It is a communion of writers and readers, a timeless occasion upon which writers with something to say can hope to be heard, either to create the definitive portrait of the artist or a deft contribution to his or her ultimate portrait.
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