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What do you get when you interview 48 great authors? Something immodest, self-contradictory, grumpy—and rather wonderful

By Rachel Aspden   December 2008

The Paris Review Interviews Vol 3 ed Philip Gourevitch (Canongate, £14.99)

By any standard, the three volumes of the Paris Review interviews—selected from the archives of the American literary quarterly—feature an embarrassment of big names. Interviewees include Hemingway, Eliot, Waugh, Larkin, Faulkner, García Márquez, Pinter, Amis, McEwan, Rushdie and Mailer, to name a few. Since the magazine’s first issue in 1953—which included an interview with EM Forster (the founding editor, George Plimpton, had met him while at Cambridge)—a Paris Review interview has come to be seen as an essential step in the consolidation of an English language literary reputation. Only…

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