Julia Pagnamenta

  • interviews May 25, 2021

    Ways of Seeing

    JULIA PAGNAMENTA: In a recent interview hosted by 192 Books, Ben Lerner observed that your essays in The Hard Crowd “resist psychological access.” You replied that any self-reflection missing from the essays was “intentional,” and that you were interested in analysis rather than in therapy. That the difference between the two models might play a role in the kind of “self-revelations” you were “willing to share.”

    I thought of this exchange when reading “Popular Mechanics,” The Hard Crowd’s chapter on writer Nanni Balestrini, where you write about Alfonso Natella, the protagonist in his novel

  • interviews August 10, 2020

    After the Battle of Algiers

    Born in New York, journalist and artist Elaine Mokhtefi became active in the youth movement for peace and justice in the early ’50s. In 1951, she went to Paris, where she first became aware of France’s colonial involvement in Algeria, and in 1962 she moved to Algiers to work in the newly independent Algerian government. Algiers, Third World Capital captures the author’s experiences in Algeria after its liberation from French colonial rule; her interactions with figures there such as Frantz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, Timothy Leary, Ahmed Ben Bella, Jomo Kenyatta, and Eldridge Cleaver; and the

  • interviews March 31, 2020

    “I never thought of myself as an ‘influencer.’”

    JULIA PAGNAMENTA: In the preface to your first book, Eve’s Hollywood (1974), you write, “I believe that places should be capitalized . . . West, especially, is a serious place that should ALWAYS be capitalized. It also sounds more adventurous to go West than to go west.” The spirit and sense of a place—genius loci—are such prominent parts of your writing. How does sense of place influence your writing?

    EVE BABITZ: I was a visual artist first, my collages and drawings, and I really like the way certain words look, like West rather than west.

    I love reading descriptions of places. It’s how a

  • interviews November 07, 2019

    “She said she needed writing as a weapon”

    JULIA PAGNAMENTA: Was writing Susan Sontag’s biography an exercise in deconstructing the image of “Susan Sontag”?

    BENJAMIN MOSER: I think it became that. I wouldn’t say it started out that way. I didn’t have a set image I wanted to convey of her because I didn’t know enough about her at the beginning to have even that much of a preconceived notion. I’d read a lot of her but definitely not all. Susan’s work is very vast and very extensive, and her world is also vast and extensive. Her political world. Her social world. Her sexual world. There is a lot of it, and it’s hard to have an impression