“Time, People, Art”: A Conversation with Alex Andriesse

"The Right to be Lazy"

Alex Andriesse and I met some time in the mid-aughts in New Paltz, New York. He was an undergraduate at SUNY New Paltz but living in Manhattan, and I’d just recently completed my M.A. there and was living in the Bronx. We both found ourselves up in New Paltz often—he was still taking classes, and I was visiting old teachers and friends, and I’d often give him a ride back to the city. On those drives, our friendship was cemented. We’d talk books, movies, and music. Auster. Jarmusch. Dylan. We had so many writers and filmmakers and musicians we loved in common. I think it was Alex who first urged me to listen to Sharon Van Etten. I probably talked his ear off about Jason Molina. In any case, that friendship continued across miles as I moved to Mississippi and Alex moved to Massachusetts. I’d meet Alex in Hudson, New York, when I was home to visit family—halfway between the Hudson Valley, where I was stationed at my mother-in-law’s house and Alex’s place in Massachusetts. We’d get coffee at Spotty Dog Books and Ale and walk around, talking. Alex and his partner came down to visit me and my family in Mississippi for a few days, and we had a lovely time. Soon after, they moved to the Netherlands, and I’ve been lucky enough to see them in France several times over the intervening years during book tours. Our long email exchanges remain like those initial conversations—full of talk of what we’re reading (most recently, I picked up Gwendoline Riley’s First Love and My Phantoms on Alex’s recommendation), listening to, and watching, as well as what’s going on in our lives. I’m thankful for Alex’s friendship in a million ways, not the least of all being that he encouraged and supported my writing when it felt like I was headed for a dead-end. Alex is an accomplished poet and essayist, and he has spent years working as an editor (first at Dalkey Archive and now at NYRB) and translator. His translation of Paul Lafargue’s The Right to Be Lazyand Other Writings is just out from NYRB and—as you’ll hear below—three other books he’s edited and/or translated have also been released this year.  

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