If I had a Christmas wish-list, if I thought I was going to receive anything other than a lump of coal this year (or that new Blu-Ray player my wife and I bought as a gift to each other and to future generations), I would ask Santa for the new issue of The Paris Review, which hits newsstands December 15. The new issue – No. 195, the second under the editorial leadership of Lorin Stein – features The Art of Fiction interviews with Louise Erdrich and Jonathan Franzen. TPR has posted excerpts from the Franzen interview. Here he is talking about The Corrections:
The fear out of which that book was written was that new materialism of the brain, which has given us drugs to change our personalities, and the materialism of consumer culture, which provides endless distractions and encourages the endless pursuit of more goods, were both antithetical to the project of literature, which is to connect with that which is unchanging and unchangeable, the tragic dimension of life.
And here he is on his new novel, Freedom:
When I was younger, the main struggle was to be a “good writer.” Now I more or less take my writing abilities for granted, although this doesn’t mean I always write well. And, by a wide margin, I’ve never felt less self- consciously preoccupied with language than I did when I was writing Freedom. Over and over again, as I was producing chapters, I said to myself, “This feels nothing like the writing I did for twenty years—this just feels transparent.” … I was admittedly somewhat conscious that this was a good sign—that it might mean that I was doing something different, pressing language more completely into the service of providing transparent access to the stories I was telling and to the characters in those stories. But it still felt like a leap into the void.