Prufrock's Page

Friday, July 28, 2006

The New Paris Review

It was author and former New Yorker staff writer Philip Gourevitch who stepped into the oversized shoes of George Plimpton when he was named editor of The Paris Review in 2005. His revised format of the quarterly did attract critics who accused him of not being faithful to the founder's vision -- a Chekov's Mistress post on the subject is here -- but now, four issues later, the dust seems to have settled. He defends his actions in a recent interview: "It looks the same! People keep saying to me 'oh, you changed the look.' I changed the size of the paper. That’s about it. I like to think that in that respect, the look of the magazine kind of reflects the attitude that I’ve brought to its contents, too— that it appears to be a departure from what was going on, but it’s actually highly tied into and kind of a tribute to its own traditions."

When it comes to contemporary fiction, he seems to call for much more social engagement: "I suppose if I’ve had difficulty with fiction in recent times, it’s the sense that fiction fails in its imagination to be anywhere near competitive with the outlandishness of actual people and events—the kind of raw scale of how people can actually be blunt about themselves." (Remember, this is the man who wrote We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow You Will Be Killed With Your Families -- an non-fiction account of the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Rwanda.)

And does anyone read all those unsolicited submissions? "Oh yeah. The unsolicited stuff, the 'pure slush,' as it’s called, all gets read twice actually."

Back to the word processor, boys!


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