Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers (ed. Vendela Vida)

The title of this collection of interviews from Believer magazine made me think it would be writers in conversation, each talking about their own work, but for the most part it's conventional-though interesting--interviews, where one writer is interviewer and the other is interviewee. The one that comes closest to a conversation is the Zadie Smith interview of Ian McEwan, which not coincidentally was also the one of greatest technical interest. But overall I enjoyed this book--it made me want to read some writers I haven't, to reread some writers I have, and gave me a few fresh ideas about process and technique.

I like to read interviews of writers for two reasons--one, because they sometimes make me think about my own writing in a different way and two, because in becoming more human, writers make writing seem more do-able. It matters to me what their lives are and how they conduct them because they are already up the ladder I want to climb. But I've never been too sure why non-writers find interviews with writers interesting. The one thing they almost never seem to do is offer a new understanding of the texts of the interviewee. Those, for me, almost always stand apart from the person who wrote them.

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