Lately there’s been a bit of flack flying regarding the Paris Review (PR). After sailing tall and proud under George Plimpton’s leadership for so many decades, PR is now moving forward under its second editor in as many years. Poets & Writer’s September/October issue featured an article on the new editor, Philip Gourevitch, and the challenges he faces as he leads PR into the 21st century. Whether the magazine will keep up with its full and long history remains to be seen but for writers, PR continues to remain constant with the wonderful resources that are now being made available online.
Even before I began writing I loved reading the Paris Review’s Writers-at-Work interview series. I would comb the used bookstores and load up with plenty of reading about writers, their lives and their pursuit of the craft. Today you can click over to Salon and listen to recordings from the current issue (No. 159), as well as interviews from the archives that include a two-parter with Hunter Thompson, Garrison Keillor discussing the genesis of Lake Woebegon, and many others. Bibliophile that I am, I remain constant to my worn bound books of interviews. The conversations about craft prepared me for the abundance of delights and heartbreaks that are bound to come to those who tread the writerly path.
If trotting down to the local bookstore or searching through Amazon’s lists of worn and used Writers-at-Work issues that remain available doesn’t make your heart beat a little bit faster, then perhaps the tap of a key will make your heart soar. With the help of a National Endowment Grant (USA Today), the Paris Review is now able to offer the more than fifty years of "literary wisdom" available online and free. This massive endeavor is called the DNA of Literature. The complete interviews from the 50s, 60s, and 70s are already available with the 80s roster expected to be finished in a matter of months (December 2005). The remaining decades of interviews are scheduled to be fully available by April, 2006.
Now you can read about the art of fiction with E.M. Forster: you can download the pdf file and even see an actual manuscript page. Find out for yourself what Hemingway had to say about a writer’s need for emotional stability. Discover when Calvin Trillion learned he was funny. And don’t think the women aren’t given due mention. There are interviews with Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, and Joyce Carol Oates, to name a few. There are hours of pure pleasure for the budding writer, the avid reader, or the ever-seeking professional, and if this treasure trove doesn’t keep all you intrepid readers busy this weekend, well then, I don’t know what will.