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The art of conversation

A camp Capote, a comic Vonnegut and a magisterial Bellow all feature in this collection of Paris Review interviews. But the most moving character of all is the little-known octogenarian poet Jack Gilbert

By Margaret Drabble   March 2007

The Paris Review Interviews, Volume 1 (ed Philip Gourevitch) Canongate, £14.99

The Paris Review series of interviews with writers was launched in 1953 with EM Forster as the subject, and introduced a new format in which successful authors could indulge in self-analysis, aesthetic theory, modest denial and witty evasion. This was long before the modern promotional book tour, with its endless readings and literary festivals, long before Richard and Judy and the three-minute round-up of your Worst Food and Favoured Place to Die. Writers of a slightly…

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