Always Apprentices: The Believer magazine Presents Twenty-Two Conversations Between Writers

Always Apprentices: The Believer magazine Presents Twenty-Two Conversations Between Writers

by Sheila Heti
     
 

Always Apprentices collects five years of intimate, wide-ranging conversations with many of today’s most prominent writers, taken from the pages of the Believer. The participants don’t limit themselves to issues of writing and craft, but instead offer unfettered exchanges on a wide range of topics—from what it means to be a consumer

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Overview

Always Apprentices collects five years of intimate, wide-ranging conversations with many of today’s most prominent writers, taken from the pages of the Believer. The participants don’t limit themselves to issues of writing and craft, but instead offer unfettered exchanges on a wide range of topics—from what it means to be a consumer to whether or not to kill a deer, from how we get to know each other to walking while inebriated. The interviews feature the serious-yet-casual Believer approach to the often staid interview format. For example, Sheila Heti asks Mary Gaitskill, “If you go into a room or go to a party, is there a basic disposition you have toward humans going through the world?” Elsewhere, Colum McCann begins his conversation with Aleksandar Hemon by asking, “What are we doing here? Why aren’t we in a pub?” Other interviews include Don DeLillo talking with Bret Easton Ellis; Joan Didion talking with Vendela Vida; and Barry Hannah talking with Wells Tower.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This enthralling collection contains 22 conversations between novelists, memoirists, poets, journalists, screenwriters, and combinations thereof about the craft of writing and the rewards (and torments) that it offers. The interviews, previously published in the Believer, tend to focus on idiosyncratic processes and each author’s career trajectory, as well as on how authors understand their work and its relationship to the world. The “conversations” here are more like interviews, with younger authors asking questions of established figures, including Mary Gaitskill, Michael Ondaatje, Victor LaValle, Pankaj Mishra, and Joan Didion. The book’s pièces de résistance include a muted exchange between Bret Easton Ellis and Don DeLillo about their respective careers, a high-minded discussion between Aleksander Hemon and Colum McCann on the ethics of novel writing, and a dialogue between Alain Mabanckou and Dany Laferrière on the emergence in literature of African and Caribbean voices. From the troubled state of literature and today’s narrowly commercial publishing world to the exasperation of working with Hollywood, the interviews both inspire and charm with their blend of urgency and irony. Moreover, the conversations offer a degree of insight into the development of M.F.A. culture that rivals McGurl’s The Program Era. Agent: The Wylie Agency. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Editors at Believer magazine present an eclectic series of interviews. Some of the writers are household names--at least in the households of serious readers: Don DeLillo, Paula Fox, Maureen Howard, Will Self and Joan Didion among them. Others in the collection are known more to the literati or to small legions of zealous fans. But all have provocative things to say about writing, reading and readers, and most of the conversations are amiable, although Julie Hecht comes off as curmudgeonly and caustic at times. Several of the writers talk about their writing spaces and processes, and several say they write either longhand (Mary Gaitskill) or on a typewriter (Barry Hannah, Joy Williams). Virtually all of them reveal their biases and/or idiosyncrasies. Gary Lutz talks passionately about commas (he likes their precision); Chimomanda Ngoza Adichie points out the power of storytelling; Michael Ondaatje says he never thinks about an audience. Although most of the writers have nothing ill to say of their colleagues, Sarah Schulman zings Rick Moody and Jeffrey Eugenides (among others) but expresses gratitude to Grace Paley, Tillie Olsen and Edmund White for career help. In the whatever-happened-to category, Bruce Jay Friedman, now in his 80s, appears to wax wise and express gentle humility: "I'm really surprised by how little I know," he says. A number of the authors complain about the demands of teaching and about the reluctance of writing students to read, and very few issue canned comments--though Mark Leyner's "Fate is the primordial plot device" could qualify. A motley assortment of writers eloquently demonstrate that there is no single "writing process"; there are myriad.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781938073250
Publisher:
McSweeney's Publishing
Publication date:
03/12/2013
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
1,103,593
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Sheila Heti is the author of five books, including the "novel from life" How Should a Person Be? and The Chairs Are Where the People Go, co-authored with Misha Glouberman, which the New Yorker called "a triumph of conversational philosophy." She lives in Toronto.

Ross Simonini is a musician, writer, and artist living in New York. He has edited interviews at the Believer since 2007.

Vendela Vida co-founded the Believer in 2003. She is the author of four books, including the novels Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Lovers.

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