to say today, other than my plea, below, to Ellis Sharp, who we all love & miss. Come back, and stop teasing us! Other than that, I just wanted to say something about The Paris Review Interviews, vols 1 & 2. They are very enjoyable, and very good and all that stuff. I’m not going to gush all over them and say they’re ‘An absolute treat’ as the Independent did or that they’re ‘Bulging with unexpected gifts’ (which I can’t read without thinking of the actress and the bishop, the shallow Sheila that I am) as the Guardian did. Nor would I claim they are ‘Indispensable’ as the Daily Telegraph did. Nothing’s indispensable. Whoever wrote that must be shallower than I. No, I will not buy into the discourse of sycophants for a minute. I’ll just say that they’re good and solid and enjoyable. And then I’ll make my criticisms. There are, inevitably, too many men and too few women. Four females in vol 1 versus 12 men, drops to three females in vol 2 versus 12 men. That’s all. I do get bored of men. I don’t believe women are better – better writers, better people, better lovers – but I get bored of all the men. In vol 2, Graham Greene is interviewed by two men, admittedly over half a century ago so we can cut the guys some slack (but only some), who kick off by asking Greene about his then latest production, a play, The Living Room. Of course, wise as he is, the first question Greene throws back is:
‘Have you seen the play yourselves?’
‘No,’ says one of the interviewers, ‘a percipient girl saw it for us – she went down to Portsmouth and came back with a review, a synopsis, and a great admiration for it.’
They then proceed to discuss the play with the notes of Percipient Girl.
I really want to know who that girl was. And how old she was? Twelve? And how old the men were who did the interview. Sorry. I know you’ll be yawning, complaining, and all that. But I needed it lanced.
The only other thing that has really struck me is how much more humble, more personable and even, perhaps, more interesting, are the two Latin American writers – Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges – compared to the pile of North American and European men (less the women, inevitably, and less James Baldwin, a black American writer) who seem to be so much more self-obsessed and selfish and stuck up.