• March 25, 2013

    Bookforum talks to Rebecca Miller

    I met with Rebecca Miller on a recent chilly afternoon in New York to talk about her ambitious new novel, Jacob's Folly (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux). Her previous books include a story collection, Personal Velocity, and a novel, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee; she also wrote and directed the films based on these books. While it may be for her films that she is best known (she is also the writer and director of "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" and "Angela"), Rebecca Miller is a novelist in her own right. We took refuge in the warmth of a West Village bistro, and over a long lunch discussed sources

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  • March 04, 2013

    Bookforum talks to Sam Lipsyte

    Around the turn of the millennium, Sam Lipsyte was an almost secret writer who inspired obsessive admiration. I had started to write fiction then, and my fellow aspiring writers and I would share Lipsyte rarities—a story in a back issue of Open City or NOON, a well-worn copy of his debut story collection Venus Drive (2000) or The Subject Steve (2001)—like pre-internet punk rockers trading tape dubs of out-of-print 7-inches. He’s not so secret anymore, particularly since his critically acclaimed novel The Ask (2010), but his work continues to generate a rare sense of excitement among the writers

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  • January 31, 2013

    Bookforum talks to Ben Fountain

    Ben Fountain’s literary breakthrough came at age forty-eight, eighteen years after he quit law to write fiction. His debut short-story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, earned him critical acclaim and a Whiting Writer’s Award in 2007. Five years later, Fountain’s first novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, received the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, was shortlisted for the National Book Award, and is a finalist for this year's NBCC award in fiction. The book takes place on one epic day in the life of nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn, a virgin from a small town in Texas who goes

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  • Laird Hunt
    January 18, 2013

    Bookforum talks to Laird Hunt

    In Laird Hunt’s provocative new novel Kind One, set during the antebellum era, a young woman, Ginny, leaves her family and everything she knows and loves to follow a man, Linus Lancaster, who is not who he claims to be. After moving to his farm, Ginny discovers that Linus is a selfish, abusive husband whose grandiose ideas about himself far exceed his abilities. During her early years of marriage, Ginny befriends Linus’s slaves, Cleome and Zinnia. When Linus’s attentions eventually turn to them, Ginny betrays her only friends and she becomes almost as cruel as her husband. I had the opportunity

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  • January 08, 2013

    Bookforum talks with Kurt Hollander

    Twenty-three years ago, writer Kurt Hollander fled a rapidly gentrifying New York City and settled 2,500 miles south in Mexico City. As the burgeoning megacity’s art scene expanded, he edited the magazine Poliester, ran a pool hall and a bar in the neighborhood of Condesa, directed films, and published several books on Mexican popular culture. Then he got sick. I spoke with him over Skype about his new book, Several Ways to Die in Mexico City: An Autobiography, and how to survive in a city that all too often seems like it’s out to kill you.

    Bookforum: At the beginning of your book, you allude

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  • December 13, 2012

    Bookforum talks with Michael Fried

    Michael Fried is a professor of humanities and the history of art at Johns Hopkins University. He’s best known as a singularly influential art critic and historian, especially for his controversial 1967 Artforum essay “Art and Objecthood,” and for his trilogy tracing the genealogy of modern art back through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: Absorption and Theatricality (1980), Courbet’s Realism (1990), and Manet’s Modernism (1996). He’s also written prolifically on photography and is a poet. In his newest work, Flaubert’s “Gueuloir, the critic turns his attention to Flaubert’s first

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  • Lydia Millet
    November 19, 2012

    Bookforum Talks to Lydia Millet

    Writing in Bookforum last year, Minna Proctor said of Lydia Millet’s fiction that it "takes aim at the metaphysical jugular.” Over the course of eleven books (including two for young adults) Millet has won the respect of readers and critics for creating "exquisitely flawed characters" and pushing them "beyond themselves, their experience, their expectations" towards powerful transformations. Though she's been shortlisted for a Pulitzer and awarded a PEN prize, Millet is not just an acclaimed novelist and short story writer; she is also a passionate environmentalist. The five years she spent

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  • October 17, 2012

    Bookforum talks with Daniel Mendelsohn

    Avatar and Aeschylus; Mad Men and memoirs; Sontag and Spider-Man: The Musical—nothing is too high or too low for the critic Daniel Mendelsohn to analyze and engage with. Waiting for the Barbarians (New York Review Books, $25), his new collection of essays, moves untrammeled across history, culture, and the arts to find us preoccupied with many of the same ideas and narratives of the Greek and Latin classics. For this “meeting of the ancient and the contemporary worlds,” as the author puts it, there is no better guide than Mendelsohn. Written mostly for the New York Review of Books and the New

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  • September 21, 2012

    Brief Conversations with Lee Konstantinou

    In 2012, four years after David Foster Wallace’s suicide, books by and about the late author are being published at a remarkable pace. In addition to the paperback edition of The Pale King and the nonfiction collection Both Flesh and Not (due out in November), this has been the year of D.T. Max’s biography Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story and a collection of interviews titled Conversations with David Foster Wallace. A powerful contribution to the discussion of Wallace’s work is The Legacy of David Foster Wallace (University of Iowa Press), edited by Samuel Cohen and Lee Konstantinou. The pieces

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  • September 12, 2012

    Victor LaValle

    Victor LaValle and Mat Johnson spent years typing away at opposite of a mouse-infested tenement in Harlem, dreaming of becoming novelists. Eventually, they did, and they also maintained their friendship over the years, talking regularly about writing, life, and what would come next. Victor LaValle’s fourth novel, The Devil in Silver, a literary horror novel set in a NYC sanitarium, was published by Spiegel & Grau in September.

    MJ: Alright, Big Nuts. How does this book suck less than all the others?

    VL: Well, it's certainly longer. In my experience, the longer the book, the less chance there's

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  • September 05, 2012

    Bookforum talks with Zadie Smith

    Zadie Smith was just twenty-four years old when she published White Teeth (2000), her best-selling, widely-acclaimed debut novel. Now thirty-six, she has written four novels and a collection of essays, was a columnist for Harper’s Magazine, is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker and The Guardian, and is a professor of creative writing. Oh yeah: and she’s a mother. I spoke to Smith on the phone early one recent morning about NW, her tragicomic new book about a northwest London neighborhood and its people; its corners and projects, friends and lovers, mothers

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  • Chris Hayes, photograph by Sarah Shatz
    August 28, 2012

    Bookforum talks to Chris Hayes

    Christopher Hayes is the Nation's editor-at-large and the host of the MSNBC's weekend morning show, "Up With Chris Hayes!" In his new book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (which Jim Sleeper reviews in our Fall issue) Hayes outlines the mechanics of meritocracy and the corruption and fraud it breeds. This, he argues, is at the core of the institutional failures of the last decade.

    Bookforum: Twilight of the Elites starts off with this incredible litany of recent institutional failures, from Wall Street to Congress. The inequality embedded in these systems seems to really

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