Indexing: The Paris Review, The Drawbridge and The Believer

Posted by Jason Diamond

Lorin Stein begins his tenure of The Paris Review with issue #194.  He walked the hallowed halls of Paris Review HQ (I’m guessing they’re considered hallowed), sat down at his desk, and comprised an editor’s note that was eloquent and assertive.  A great note to start a new era.

The content chosen to kick things off is outstanding: Lydia Davis gives us ten stories from Flaubert.  Not doubting these were picked up while Davis was working on her translation of Madame Bovary.  Also a story from Stein’s pal, Sam Lipsyte, “The Worm in Philly.”   While I didn’t find this story as funny as Lipsyte’s recent story in The New Yorker, this one’s a winner.  I especially love the quote, “I was experimenting with unemployment.  I was no longer experimenting with drugs.”

The Michel Houellebecq interview, I’m guessing, was picked by Stein.  I’m saying this due to what I perceive to be Stein’s affinity towards French literature, but I could be wrong.   And although I’m not much of a poet, nor is my bearing on the art as good as I’d like it to be, but in the wake of the recent scandal over this section, I’d say they did a fine job.

Also, dorky, but no doubt of note: this issue is thicker than previous, and the cover is a different paper stock.

If it wasn’t for the fact that The Drawbridge constantly put out issue after issue of really engaging literature and art, I could at least take comfort in the fact that the contributor caricatures are always great.  But thankfully, I’m impressed issue after issue, which in sticking with the spookiness of the season, is “Ghosts.”

Robert Gottlieb’s musings about  Sarah Bernhardt, famous French actress of the late 19th and early 20th century, was maybe my favorite piece in this fantastic rag.   Was also really into the fact that they included a Vasily Grossman essay in there.  Overall a great paper to spend a lazy Sunday reading.

I’ve been overworked to the point that it’s nearing the end of the month, and I haven’t finished October’s issue of The Believer. I know, kvetching doesn’t really get you anywhere.  I should be finishing the 75th issue of my favorite magazine, but alas, I’ve got too much on my plate.  Like writing this…

I’m going to dedicate an hour to reading Wells Tower interviewing the late Barry Hannah, then flog myself for not doing that sooner.  But I did however finish David K. O’Hara’s piece, “The Birth of Autumnal Folk,” and promptly thought to myself upon placing the magazine down, “why was this not in the music issue a few months back?”  Then I realized this superb piece of music writing was timed perfectly for the season, and made me want to go find a nice wooded area to go strum a guitar and hum some Freeport Convention songs.


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