July 3, 2005

The Paris Review (no. 171)
Edited by Brigid Hughes

The Art of Fiction, Indeed – Many, many lessons to be gleaned from the Tobias Wolff interview: (1) “The one thing I would say to a young writer who wanted counsel is to be patient. Time, which is your enemy in almost everything in this life, is your friend in writing. It is. If you can relax into time, not fight it, not fret at its passing, you will become better.” (2) “I tend to hew to values of exactitude, clarity and velocity … There’s no right way to tell all stories, only the right way to tell a particular story.” (3) “It’s the gravity of daily obligations and habit, the connections you have to your friends and your work, your family, your place – even the compromises that are required of you to get through this life. The compromises don’t diminish us, they humanize us – it’s the people who won’t, or who think they don’t, who end up monsters in this world.” (4) Shelley’s line: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” (5) “That’s the way we view our lives, by way of stories. Jesus taught mostly in stories – in parables: the good Samaritan, the woman at the well, the prodigal son. The teachings of that ancient Taoist text the Chuang Tzu are essentially a series of parables that force the mind into unexpected avenues of consideration and intuition. That’s what story can do that statement can’t do, axiom can’t do, rules and commandments can’t do. And that’s why Chekhov with his freedom from programs and vulgar designs continues to have this power over us.” (6) “And the most radical political writing of all is that which makes you aware of the reality of another human being. Self-absorbed as we are, self-imprisoned even, we don’t feel that often enough.”


Post a Comment

<< Home