Friday, November 19, 2010

Readings: The Paris Review Interviews #6

Scrolling down the index of posts, I see that it has been more than a month since I last posted a pithy quote from one of The Paris Review Interviews. As fate would have it, my benefactor in the acquisition of this set of amazing volumes (and lifelong friend) Jim, called me yesterday morning just to pose a general wtf? Happily, I was able to report to him, during the course of our brief conversation, that I was three-quarters of the way through the interview with Kurt Vonnegut and would have a quote up on Rodak Riffs in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I elaborated on that proud pronouncement by declaring that the quote had already been chosen. It would, I declared, be only slightly more wordy than “Jesus wept,” consisting of a single sentence.

But, predictably, the final quarter of the interview has since laid a quote on me that I just cannot leave lying there in good conscience. I will therefore use them both. Rules are made to be broken. Here is the first:

My relatives say that they are glad I’m rich, but that they simply cannot read me.

To the extent that I can call myself a writer, I’ve certainly been there (except, of course, that I’m not rich.)

The final quote was generated within the context of Vonnegut discussing himself as a humorist. His novels, he said, were constructed by stringing together series of jokes. The interviewer asks Vonnegut if it’s true that he prefers Laurel and Hardy to Charlie Chaplin. In response, Vonnegut provides my second chosen pithy quote:

I’m crazy about Chaplin, but there’s too much distance between him and his audience. He is too obviously a genius. In this own way, he’s as brilliant as Picasso, and this is intimidating to me.

That is a new idea to me, and strikes me as precisely spot-on.

Consider also this timely UPDATE