Powell's has a short interview with Neal Stephenson, whose Anathem I just started dipping into yesterday. He mentions David Foster Wallace, "who I think was the best we had, and who influenced me in the sense of making me try harder and wanting to do better."
An interview with literary scholar Steven Moore, who is writing a lengthy "alternate history of the novel" and "history of the alternate novel." Here is an interesting excerpt where he defends difficult literature:
[I]nnovative writers have always faced opposition, but 50 years ago, an educated person would have been apologetic if he had never read Ulysses; after 2000, you had people like that bog-trotter Roddy Doyle saying Joyce wasn’t worth reading, as though it showed good sense not to have read Ulysses. Instead of being embarrassed at not making it past page 25 of Gravity’s Rainbow, some people were proud to have seen through that charlatan so quickly. These conservative critics seem to hold a “family values” attitude toward literature, believing that anything outside of the mainstream of fiction should be shunned, and that if a novel couldn't be read and appreciated by your average Joe or Jane, then it was a pretentious waste of time. Of course you don't have to like Joyce (or Pynchon or Gaddis), they’re certainly not for everyone, but to dismiss them as pretentious frauds and to glorify simpler, more traditional fiction struck me as an example of the growing anti-intellectualism in our country, right in step with schools mandating that evolution was just a “theory” and that creationism should be taught alongside it in science classes.
A WSJ interview with David Foster Wallace on the occasion of the publication of McCain's Promise, a repackaged version of an excellent article he wrote in 2000 about following McCain's campaign for two weeks. He gets into the current election a little as well:
The truth—as I see it—is that the previous seven years and four months of the Bush Administration have been such an unmitigated horror show of rapacity, hubris, incompetence, mendacity, corruption, cynicism and contempt for the electorate that it's very difficult to imagine how a self-identified Republican could try to position himself as a populist.
(thx, bill s.)
NPR's Terry Gross interviewed The Wire creator David Simon yesterday -- listen here. (There are spoilers if you are not caught up.) With the series finale airing this Sunday, will this be my last Wire post ever? (thx, drew)
A radio interview with William T. Vollmann about his new book, "Riding to Everywhere," a non-fictional account of his experience hopping freight trains in the American West. There's an interesting discussion about the boundaries of authority and society that comes up after several callers criticize him for romanticizing danger. (thx, steve)
A new Neal Stephenson interview has been published, conducted in 2006 but still the most recent one out there. Unfortunately, it's part of Tomorrow through the Past: Neal Stephenson and the Project of Global Modernization, an academic book going for $80 on Amazon. Dr. Jonathan Lewis, the author and an English professor at UNCP, also studies the works of David Foster Wallace:
“I am looking at Wallace and Stephenson and how their storytelling techniques have been influenced by the Web,” Dr. Lewis said. “It is a style with multi-threaded stories that may be moving at different speeds in a way that is similar to the way people use the Web.”
Sounds interesting, but I always thought Infinite Jest's multi-threaded narrative was more influenced by Tom Clancy (and fractals) than the Web.
Update: I was able to read the interview thanks to a library and a friend. Nothing revelatory, but we're currently in a Stephenson void so it was good to read something. The best line, in reference to why his old pen name books have been republished with his real name:
[The] perception of secrecy or furtiveness tends to make people behave irrationally.
An interview with Trent Reznor and Saul Williams on the eve of the online release of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust!
What do you think about OiNK being shut down?
Awesome. They also ask both of them how much they paid for Radiohead's In Rainbows. Saul: $7; Trent: $5080.
Trent: I'll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often... If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn't the equivalent of that in the retail space right now. iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up.
An interview with Tony Kaye, the controversial director of American History X, on his upcoming documentary Lake of Fire about the abortion debate. He's been working on it for over 16 years, and the 152 minute film features three actual abortions.
[W]hat I was trying to do as a filmmaker, in a personal way, was to find out exactly what abortion was without taking any sides and without being judgmental.
That's an ambitious claim, and even if he succeeds, I doubt it will be perceived that way.
New David Foster Wallace interview, translated from German.
[T]he first part of [Oblivion], the roughly eighty pages of Mister Squishy, took me about four months. I write a lot by hand, draft by draft, and only later do I start to type it all. And after the like tenth draft I'm only thinking about the single lines and how they sound.
No wonder he hasn't followed up Infinite Jest with a third novel. (thx, nm)