Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Helprin Interview

A very interesting (and long!) interview with writer Mark Helprin. I sympathized with this bit:

DT: Are there any contemporary writers whom you read, that you admire?

MH: No.

DT: You don’t read anything at all? Someone like Tom Wolfe strikes me as . . .

MH: Oh, he’s terrific, but . . . about thirty years ago, the New York Times Magazine interviewed me, and they basically asked me that same question. I usually don’t read what other people read. But I don’t read book reviews, I don’t have friends. I mean, I have friends, but I don’t go to cocktail parties. People don’t say, “Oh, did you see such and such?” And I follow my own nose. So I read things that are different. People will always say to me, “Have you read Robert S. Bosco’s latest novel?” or “Have you read so and so’s history of Peru, which is reviewed in the New York Review of Books and the New York Times and has a buzz about it?” I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m like from another planet. I’m a pygmy from the jungle. But I’ve read some books. And so I can’t stand it because I always have to say, no. But I don’t then turn to them and say, “Have you read British Intelligence in the Second World War, British Edition, by F. H. Hinsley?” I don’t do that. The thing is that in the world there are 30 million books. And I follow my nose. I don’t have a prohibition. But you look at the books I have, there just aren’t any books with buzz. Of any kind. A lot of them are sent. I usually don’t end up reading them, because I don’t have any time. I read extremely slowly. What am I reading now? Six Days of War. I read it for a course I’m teaching. I’m reading Cicero. I’m always reading Churchill. When people say, Do you read contemporary writers, I have to say no, because I don’t even know who they are. Honestly.


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