The Paris Review is a nonprofit American literary magazine that helped launch the careers of Jack Kerouac, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Adrienne Rich, Mona Simpson, David Foster Wallace, Jeffrey Eugenides, and countless others. Founded by George Plimpton and friends in Paris (in 1953), the Review soon moved to New York, where it became one of the world's leading outlets for emerging and established writers.

Our Writers at Work series, regarded as "one of the single most persistent acts of cultural conservation in the history of the world" (The New York Times), includes interviews with Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, T. S. Eliot, Dorothy Parker, Ralph Ellison, William Faulkner, Irwin Shaw, Elizabeth Bishop, and Vladimir Nabokov, among hundreds of others.

After Plimpton's death in 2003, the Review was edited by Philip Gourevitch. Lorin Stein and the current staff relaunched the Review in 2010 and founded The Paris Review Daily, an online gazette that reflects the sensibility of the quarterly.

We are currently celebrating our sixtieth anniversary and just announced our latest issue, The Paris Review No. 206.

We'll be around at 3:00 pm EDT to answer any and all questions. Proof!

Here to answer your questions are Lorin Stein (editor), Sadie Stein (deputy editor), Stephen Andrew Hiltner (associate editor), Clare Fentress (assistant editor), Justin Alvarez (digital director), and Hailey Gates (head of advertising and promotion).

EDIT (6:07 pm EDT): That's it for now, folks! We'll poke around tomorrow morning and try to address what we can, but we all wanted to thank you for a fun afternoon! If you're intrigued (and aren't already a reader), we hope you'll consider subscribing—or, at the very least, downloading our iOS app and following us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr). Happy reading!

Comments: 268 • Responses: 83  • Date: 

through_triage29 karma

A friend of mine was a reader at the Paris Review. I was wondering about the veracity of some of his statements.

  • How many stories have you pulled from the slush and eventually published?
  • What percentage of your readers vetting submissions are high schoolers?

For those interested, below is the dude's account of what it was like interning at the Paris Review.

"OK, so here's the deal with the Paris Review. What this article (ed: I sent the guy an email asking him about it) says is true, kind of. They do have a well-organized system for combing through the slush, and reading the slush is the entire job of the "readers" (usually from the Columbia MFA program) as well as one of the side duties of the interns (unpaid full-time college students who do pretty much everything for the journal besides the actual editing work). It's true that a story has to get two rejections before it's tossed, and if it gets two passes it's read by everyone in the place; it goes in a special basket and there's a sheet attached to the cover where everyone writes their comments. This all gelled with my idealism quite nicely, at first.

"But here's the thing. The Paris Review almost never takes anything from the slush to publish in the magazine. When I worked there, they told me that it had happened once over a year ago, with a story about an autistic piano player, but that it was almost unprecedented. And that seems about right. Invariably the stories that got two passes would go around the office, acquiring comments, sometimes very positive ones... and then they'd disappear and we'd never hear anything about them again. I think those people get personalized rejections from one of the interns or an editor, which is cool, and I'm a lot less put off by it now that I've seen the truly nasty side of publishing through my job. But there is something about the system that's a little bothersome, because even though all this time and energy is being expended on the submissions, everyone in the place knows better than to take them very seriously. Whereas crappy stories from known writers get huge amounts of editorial feedback and help, and are basically treated as "publishable" from the start.

"I was also pretty offended by the fact that (a writer and literary professor's) son, a not-particularly-bright high schooler, was allowed to read and reject stories by people who clearly were doing things (experimenting with form, etc.) he didn't understand. I remember at one point he wrote an R on a story I'd liked, and I called him out about it. 'It's weird,' was his defense, and then, 'You don't have to have reasons for not liking something.' That was not a happy day in my life."

theparisreview9 karma

It's rare to pull stuff from the slush, especially now that agents take such an active hand in fostering the careers of younger writers. But it happens. (There's a poem from the slush in our last issue.)

Our interns and readers are mainly college (and grad-school) grads, and, in the past three years, they've spanned an age range of some twenty-five years. The high schoolers (there have only been two in recent memory) have been some of the best.

We're sorry your friend didn't have a positive experience with us, but the level of attention we give to every single submission is unusual in a magazine of our scale, and we really do try.

cecebabs22 karma

Which literary magazines and blogs do you read?

theparisreview23 karma

A handful of our favorites: Foxing Quarterly, n+1, The White Review (founded by a former Paris Review intern), The New York Review of Books, The Public Domain Review, The New York Tyrant, to name just a few.

iwantyoutotototostay20 karma

What is the average number of words your staffers read before they determine if something is slush?

theparisreview18 karma

The salutation. (Anything that doesn't come from an agent is technically "slush," which isn't a pejorative.)

If you mean, How much of a story do we read before we reject it, then, as a general rule: first five pages, last five pages.

finnarun16 karma

I've only recently begun to get interested in The Paris Review, mainly because of your digital/social media presence, which I think is tremendous (great work, Justin). Do you see this becoming more important in the future? Do you think you'll ever be "online-only?"

theparisreview14 karma

We'll never be online only.

Thank you for the compliment! We also like Justin. —All the editors except Justin

theparisreview15 karma

"This is badass. We should never do anything but this." —Lorin

theparisreview14 karma

"Where's Unidan? Surely he reads The Paris Review?" —Stephen

Scramisaur14 karma

Hello Editors,

As a student writer in college with a growing portfolio of creative short stories, what are the best ways for me to improve my chances of publication (content aside), be it a well-written cover letter, a correctly formatted submission, or a mailed (rather than e-mailed) submission? In other words, what do you guys like to see?

Also, publications like The Paris Review can make (or break) a young writer's career. How do you balance choosing submissions between emerging and established writers? Do you guys (like the New Yorker) prefer established to emerging writers?

Thanks for taking the time to read my questions. I'm looking forward to submitting some of my pieces for consideration!

theparisreview10 karma

"Content aside—that is classic!" —Lorin

In all seriousness, content is king. The cover letter is very much secondary (keep it short and sweet). We only accept submissions via postal mail.

There's glory in discovering a new writer, but we've certainly never turned down good work from an established author.

Scramisaur3 karma

Yes! My quote is deemed a classic!

theparisreview6 karma

YOU are a classic, /u/Scramisaur.

JamesRenner12 karma

Hemingway, Capote, Nabakov, Ellison, all greats who wrote for the common man and did not focus (too heavily) on Manhattan and its insular sensibilities. Much of what I've seen recently in the Paris Review seems very esoteric and geared toward the Union Square lit scene. I'm concerned that it could be a bit of an echo chamber sometimes. How do you keep the common reader, that book lover from Decatur, interested in picking up your stories? How could you better serve them in the future?

theparisreview10 karma

"It's funny; I don't think of Nabokov as addressing himself to "the common man." But I'm not sure who that common man or woman is supposed to be.

"We publish what interests us. It's not clear to me who else's taste we could consult. In general, writing speaks to writing. Echoes are not necessarily to be avoided." —Lorin

JamesRenner17 karma

I guess my point is that those authors you list from the early Paris Review pages were people (Hemingway and Ellison in particular) who inspired a new generation of writers from the rust belt steel mills and the Texas prairies. People like Cormac McCarthy and Donald Ray Pollock. The danger in staying too Manhattan is that you don't stay relevant to the American audience, the American voice, and soon all you have is a nifty Union Square rag.

You ask who else you should consult. I personally think agents are the last people you should consult if you want to set the bar. Consult the librarian in Muncie who reads 100 books a month. Consult the lit prof in St. Louis who has reviewed books for the local paper for the last 50 years. I'm a little dismayed to learn on here that you have high schoolers and undergrads readings through your submissions.

And "writing speaks to writing?" That's the definition of esoteric. I loves me some Paris Review but get out of New York. Stretch a bit. Find the next Alice Walker, the next Lars Eighner. Nobody needs another Jonathan Safran Foer.

theparisreview6 karma

"Exactly one of the five fiction writers in our new issue lives in New York.

"We don't "consult" with agents, or anybody else; we follow our own instincts. I think most librarians and professors would agree with me that writing begins with reading. That's not parochialism—it's part of the way literature transcends geography, background, and class." —Lorin

eatpoopsleep11 karma

I work for the Dalkey Archive Press. Want to review some more of our books on your blog please?

theparisreview7 karma

We don't review books—but we do love your stuff!

batra82911 karma

What trends in recent poetry and fiction do you find yourselves rejecting, not just as editors, but also as readers? In the recent Refinery29 story, Lorin says, “I would describe my look as ‘realistic.’ Low on whimsy. Low on flash. It may be coincidence, but that describes my taste in fiction and poetry, too." Is that true for the rest of you?

theparisreview14 karma

"I personally dislike speculative fiction, alternate realities, and so forth." —Sadie

"Suburban malaise." —Justin

"I kind of like suburban malaise, but I wish I'd said my look was Adlai Stevenson." —Lorin

"Oh, I also hate the obvious specter of childhood sexual abuse hanging over domestic stories." —Sadie

"I'll pass." —Clare

"Oh, and I hate magical-realist food fiction." —Sadie

"Actually, I hate bored narrators. You can say that about me." —Clare

UptightSodomite7 karma

What is magical-realist food fiction? Is that like when a character eats way too much and is unrealistically slim?

theparisreview6 karma

"No, that's what we call 'every network sitcom.'" —Sadie

Aidan_H11 karma

Dear Editors,

Do you believe that the popularity of creative writing degree programs, both graduate and undergraduate, is impacting contemporary literature positively or negatively?

Having spoken with many fellow students (both those enrolled in writing programs and not) I've found that opinions differ wildly on this, as some individuals accuse MFA and undergraduate programs of producing writers that are technically proficient, but whose work lacks meaningful content, originality and authenticity; others counter that these programs help aspiring writers hone their skills and creativity, as well as offer a community of other writers that students can take advantage of to improve their own work.

As a student and writer currently debating whether to pursue the MFA route, or go on to graduate school in my chosen field of study, I would be extremely interested in your views on the matter.

Apologies for the additional question, but a friend of mine who wants to apply to your internship program would like to ask, "How does Lorin Stein take his coffee?"

theparisreview12 karma

The problem with creative-writing programs is not the quality of instruction; it's the enforced isolation with other people who are thinking, eating, and breathing the same things you are. That said, much can be learned from a good teacher, or by simply spending those two years alone with a whole lot of books.

Black, from our espresso machine.

CakeIsAMeme10 karma

In answering another question, you mentioned that publishing something from the slush pile is rare because literary agents are very active in representing new writers.

I was told that short stories aren't really worth an agent's time. Has the state of publishing changed that? How important is short fiction now versus the good ol' days?

theparisreview6 karma

It depends which good ol' days you mean.

In the twenties and thirties, for example, short stories were the best way for a writer to assure a steady income—after Hollywood. That's changed over time; now most writers make their money in Hollywood or by teaching.

A story, as such, might not be worth an agent's time, but it's often the best way for an agent to pick up a new writer.

MLeibovitz10 karma


theparisreview7 karma

There are a few new writers—new to us—in our new issue: Ben Nugent, Andrew Martin, Bill Cotter, and Christine Smallwood (though we've long been admirers of her nonfiction). Ottessa Moshfegh won our Plimpton Prize last year, which is a $10,000 annual prize for new writers published in our pages.

Sir_Chet_Manly9 karma

Were there are any writers you passed on that you later regretted doing so?

theparisreview7 karma

There are writers we admire whose work, for one reason or another, didn't seem right for us. (That happens a fair amount and is always a drag.)

sarahfletcheruk9 karma

Hello! Firstly, I love your review. I have a few questions though (as a poet myself): How does the public's taste in poetry differ now than it 20 years ago? The Paris Review had an article recently stating that there are now "an insufficiency of readers but too many people trying to get published" - how is The Paris Review combating this? Lastly, what are your pet peeves in submissions you get? For example, I work at a journal as well and my "pet peeve" is poems about pieces of obscure artwork that cannot stand alone. Thanks!

theparisreview9 karma

The best way to interest people in reading is to publish great writing. At least, that's our strategy.

Fashions change in poetry as in any other artistic endeavor; if there's one generalization to be made, it's that it's harder to generalize now about truly gifted poets.

Pet peeves: stories about hunting, stories about MFA programs (though we've published our share), stories that start with someone closing a car door.

abiinman7 karma

Hi guys!

As a publishing/journalism industry hopeful, I'm curious about your career trajectories. How did you get where you are now? (<I know Swung_by_Seraphim asked a similar question earlier, but wait, there's more!) What were your entry-level jobs? Did you take unpaid internships?

Thanks! Abi

theparisreview7 karma

"Clare and I are both former (Paris Review) interns. That was our entry-level job." —Stephen

"My first job? I was an editorial assistant at a publishing house." —Sadie

"I was a part-time secretary at Publishers Weekly." —Lorin

"Advertising." —Justin

"This is my entry-level job." —Hailey

jehup7 karma

Any truth to starting out as a CIA front? If yes, has anyone written about those days? If not, how did the rumor get started? Either way, whats the best "on assignment" story that didn't wind up in the interviews?

After being drawn in by the whole CIA front concept, I began to enjoy the interviews in chronological order and am now a loyal print subscriber. Thanks for all the great work you do. Looking forward to the fall issue.

theparisreview5 karma

Carolyn Kellogg did a good job of laying out the facts in a recent LA Times piece.

For a more imaginative take, check out Toby Barlow's Babayaga.

polpros7 karma

Can I get one of your rejection cards? Even they are legendary.

theparisreview14 karma

Submit something that starts with the closing of a car door. We'll go from there.

bereccak6 karma

Also, Clare: Will you go out with me?

theparisreview6 karma


"Ribs. I thought you'd never ask!" —Clare

unpeutfou6 karma

First, I'd like to say that I understand the need to digitize. While I love to collect the printed copies, the app is sleek, easy to use and classy as hell. But what I'm curious about, is the significant increase in The Paris Review's social media presence in the past year. Is this an attempt to appear more accessible? Target a younger audience? Establish a brand identity? Turn the spotlight around?

theparisreview4 karma

Glad you like the app!

At the end of the day, all of our efforts are directed toward finding new readers for the magazine—and putting out consistently excellent writing online, as well. We don't distinguish between media in that sense.

As a print quarterly, we face the obvious hurdle of coming out every three months, and our online presence (via the blog and via social media) is a way of both keeping in touch in the interim and showcasing work we believe in.

juin13135 karma

Hello Paris Review!

What is the average number of story submissions you receive during a given review period? How do you whittle down the number of entries into a manageable number and then settle on which to publish?

Do you as editors look for what is trending (in terms of genres and current fads, I doubt this) or simply go for what you deem to be the best of submissions you receive?

Lastly, I want to say great work on the interviews. God bless you for making them all available all the time online, they are a treasure trove of inspiration and advice. Keep up the great work! The last piece on The Last Bookstore was fantastic; it's my favorite bookstore in LA and it isn't even close.

theparisreview8 karma

We receive somewhere in the ballpark of 15,000 submissions a year. (We're expecting that to double thanks to our AMA.) Our interns screen the unsolicited submissions (the "slush") and pass the good stuff along to the editors.

"We don't even know what's trending!" —Lorin

We're glad you like the interviews. And the blog.

ZTackett5 karma

How do you (as readers) define the difference between genres (poetry, fiction, CNF)? Do you think the lines between genres can/should be defined? Have these lines always been well defined for you? Are these lines still extant for you (if they ever existed)?

theparisreview16 karma

It has to do with whether they hit the return key.

Humus4 karma

What is the weirdest, craziest writer/person you have interviewed as a company?

theparisreview3 karma

Off the top of our head it's a three-way tie: Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, Bret Easton Ellis.

sarahfletcheruk2 karma

I hope they answer with John Berryman. I adore their interview with him.

theparisreview3 karma

Yeah, we dig that one, too.

gaddisismyfav4 karma

Hello PARIS REVIEW!!!! I tremble as I write to you all (excitement pulses through my veins). Questions:

  1. What do you all consider? when young writers/ students want to apply for an internship? do you require interns to have an MFA or any other expert degree?

  2. When an issue is sold out online is there any other opportunity to obtain a printed copy of that issue?

  3. Can you list 3 books you think everyone should read (even though Im sure between all of you there are 100s)?

  4. Will you ever establish an office in the US South?

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

theparisreview10 karma

  1. Answered elsewhere.

  2. Your best bet is to try a used-bookstore site like AbeBooks.

  3. "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" (—Stephen), "Pack My Bag" (—Lorin), "Moby-Dick" (—Sadie and Clare)

  4. We have one—John Jeremiah Sullivan's back porch!

robbo844 karma

What is the difference between deputy, associate and assitant editors?

theparisreview2 karma

Our designations are specific to this magazine. We're a small staff and all wear many hats.

robbo843 karma

Favorite hats?

BuiltLikeTaft4 karma

What are your feelings about the dependence of the literary community on unpaid internships? I know the Paris Review's non-profit status makes it exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act, but the effect of such heavy reliance on unpaid labor is limiting access to individuals who lack parental wealth. Is this something that is likely to change?

theparisreview3 karma

Good question. It's something we've thought a fair amount about.

For qualified applicants who can't commit to a full-time unpaid internship—a common situation, especially for people who are holding down jobs—we offer positions as readers, which are ad-hoc and have flexible hours.

unpeutfou4 karma

boxers or briefs?

theparisreview9 karma

"Underwear is a scam. Everyone knows that." —Sadie

sancheznaughty4 karma

After how many pages do you normally put down a novel? I image that someone who has to read so many short stories is quite picky when it comes to bad first sentences and/or weak opening pages. Anyway, love your work! And please Mr Stein, where do you get your sneakers? :-)

theparisreview2 karma

"I'll stick with a novel longer than I stick with a disappointing short-story collection." —Sadie

"Wherever Converse are sold!" —Lorin

anniverta4 karma

I'm a writer who just submitted my first manuscript for publication. If it gets accepted, any tips?

theparisreview4 karma

"Watch out for paparazzi." —Hailey

peachysuit4 karma

Who edited this list in your AMA description and why did s/he choose these writers as emblematic of the Paris Review ethos: "Jack Kerouac, V. S. Naipaul, Philip Roth, Adrienne Rich, Mona Simpson, David Foster Wallace, Jeffrey Eugenides"?

theparisreview3 karma

I (Stephen) did. It's an arbitrary selection.

robbo844 karma

Keeping in mind the rich heritage of erudite partying your magazine is famous for - what are some of your favorite bars? Where do today's literary-types go to think and drink?

theparisreview2 karma

Son Cubano is our canteen. It's hot, it's literary, and, not coincidentally, it's downstairs from our office. ($5 happy hour.)

We also enjoy karaoke at Baby Grand.

simpatia2 karma

Favourite songs to sing at karaoke?

theparisreview3 karma

"'Wuthering Heights.'" —Sadie

"Four Non Blondes, 'What's Up?'" —Stephen

"'Brand New Key.'" —Hailey

"I don't have one." —Justin

"'Jolene,' with my sister." —Lorin

Diotima_of_Mantinea2 karma

Wait, what about Clare?

theparisreview4 karma

"'He's a Tramp.' (With Sadie and Hailey as yelping dogs in the background.)" —Clare

bereccak4 karma

In your opinion, why is Carson McCullers read so infrequently? Any ideas of other authors like her (besides Faulkner, O'Connor)?

theparisreview4 karma

By the standards of literary posterity, she's doing okay—as she should!

peachysuit4 karma

Who would win in a fight--George Plimpton or David Foster Wallace's do-rag?

theparisreview16 karma

Norman Mailer's thumb.

pteam-pterodactyl3 karma

If a writer has no literary degree nor publishing credits-- basically nothing but a good piece of writing to show you-- what should we say in our cover letter?

theparisreview6 karma

Exactly that! (Good work speaks for itself; a one-sentence cover letter is not a disadvantage, and a laundry list of qualifications is not necessarily an advantage.)

poemsaboutsandwiches3 karma

What percentage of your publications is solicited? In other words, as a writer at the beginning of my publishing career with only a few credits, what odds am I up against in terms of pre-picked vs. unsolicited?

Also, if I send you a poem about a sandwich does it have to be a croque monsieur?

theparisreview3 karma

You're not up against solicited pieces; we have very few of those. But we do receive a high volume of very good stuff over the transom.

Croque madame.

Monetizer3 karma

Are you a CIA front?

theparisreview5 karma

Would we tell you if we were?

paperzach3 karma

What are some common criticisms of works that the editorial staff are on the fence about?

theparisreview7 karma

Low stakes.

rockirussell3 karma

Who's been with The Paris Review the longest? Who has the most institutional memory for your iconic past?

theparisreview6 karma

Janet Gillespie, our finance manager!

montanakafka3 karma

the pr tumblr especially is great great great. but do you ever dream of making a mimeographed issue? my second question regards the handling of writers-- do writers, as artists, get handled differently by mags than say a truckdriver gets handled by a trucking company?

theparisreview3 karma

Impressed by question—yet bemused.

CRR8843 karma

Whoever is in charge of the Twitter feed: keep it up! The quotes you select from your interviews regularly lead me to bookmarking the full interview and reading it a day or two later. As a current MFA candidate, I find the insight into work ethic and creativity expressed in these interviews help keep me focused and inspired. Thanks for leading me to such great stuff.

I'd love to see a response to Scramisaur's post.

theparisreview3 karma

"All thanks be to Justin." —All editors except Justin

psh_1_psh_23 karma

Given that you guys are sort of THE literary experts, I'd love to know: What do you think about flash fiction and its growing popularity?

theparisreview6 karma

"Hate it." —Clare

"Define 'flash,' define 'growing,' define 'popularity.'" —Lorin

"Love it." —Justin

robbo843 karma

Whose idea was this anyway? And what have you been drinking during the AMA?

theparisreview2 karma

We wish.

KevROBO3 karma

What are you each reading right now? (Obviously, you're on Reddit right now, but you know what I mean)

theparisreview3 karma

"'The Disaster Artist,' by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell." —Sadie

"An essay on Heinrich Heine (by George Eliot) and a collection of poems by Miguel Hernández." —Stephen

"Tove Janssen's 'The True Deceiver' (a Sadie recommendation)." —Lorin

"'Dune Messiah' by Frank Herbert." —Clare

"'The Book of Disquiet,' Fernando Pessoa (and 'In Love,' by Alfred Hayes)." —Hailey

"'The Mongolian Conspiracy,' by Rafael Bernal." —Justin

existentialbagel3 karma

What are your thoughts on New York as a literary center? Is it tough to afford living in the city as a writer or editor? Will publications with Manhattan offices, like the Paris Review, consider moving somewhere cheaper?

theparisreview5 karma

It's tough, but we're a New York institution and aim to stay here for as long as we can.

Aidan_H3 karma

You guys have been answering questions for three hours now and the fact that it is well past five o'clock begs the question: What are the editors' favorite drinks?

theparisreview6 karma

"Milk." —Stephen

"Bulleit bourbon, neat. (Well, more specifically, with whiskey rocks.)" —Justin

"When I was younger I tried to drink gin and pineapple like Humbert Humbert, but, when it's available, in real life I like dry sherry!" —Sadie

"Tom Collins, duh." —Clare

"Actually, it is a French 75, I take it back. That is my final answer." —Clare

"On a day like today—95 degrees and the air-conditioner is on the fritz—I'd take a Mount Gay and tonic. Or a $5 mojito downstairs at Son Cubano (AC included)." —Lorin

"Don Julio Añejo on the rocks with a lime, or cold red wine." —Hailey

hannah68763 karma

My question is directed to Lorin:

How, as editor, do you maintain the delicate balance of operating within the Plimptonian model while at the same time infusing The Paris Review with new energy? TPR is so much marked by tradition yet at the same time it must also reflect the times...The digitizing of the interviews, for example, was a brilliant decision on your behalf because it allows TPR's past to live within the modern framework of the digital age. Seems like a difficult task (which you do so well!) and I am curious how you go about it?

theparisreview4 karma

The "Plimptonian model" was always about finding new writers and promoting the magazine with whatever tools came to hand. At the '64 World's Fair we sold ash trays and copies of NYRB.

It's easy to get hung up on a certain old-school New York literary ethos—parties, Elaine's, et cetera—but we think his true legacy is something more lasting and profound.

TirraLirraByTheRiver3 karma

Hey guys! I absolutely love all that you do. How would I go about getting involved with you if it was one of my dreams to work for the review?

theparisreview3 karma

We're a small staff without a great deal of turnover, but we accept intern applications year round. (We tend to have four or five interns at any given time.)

el_curly3 karma


theparisreview3 karma

Sub-hundred-word reply: What would your own life be without it?

For a longer version, see the (elsewhere linked) Charlie Rose interview.

kennethmhoover3 karma

Hi Editors,

Thanks for taking the time out of what was probably a busy work day to answer a few questions.

I'm writing to ask for a comment (from any of you who want to answer) on what the function of art in our society is, as you see it. In a world where much creative energy is spent making products into "functional art"--I'm looking at Apple--why do you think entities like The Paris Review still exist? Is there an innate human sensibility that pushes people towards purer forms of art--art that exists for beauty's sake alone? Or is there some other reason you think literature remains relevant and important?

Best wishes and thanks again, K

finnarun2 karma

What is your relationship with the artists you publish? Do you work closely with the writers and play an important role in preparing the work to be published, or is what they submit to you the (nearly) finished product?

theparisreview2 karma

Depends on the piece.

kennethmhoover2 karma

How do each of you feel about having a Strand Tote Bag designed for your magazine? Do you feel like you're selling out, or are you mostly just cool with it?

theparisreview2 karma

We're big fans of The Strand, but they don't carry us!

fictionmagazines2 karma

Justin, are you stoked for what you can do with EPUB3? Or will the Review remain a text-only affair? Thanks!

theparisreview2 karma

He left the room, so apparently not.

He's back.

"Time will only tell. With bells and whistles aside, the focus will always be on the text." —Justin

JFernan22 karma

Answer any:

  1. In the writing world, why is there so much more discussion on craft and rules than in any other art form?
  2. I think contemporary literary prose tends to have a sterile tone because authors try so hard to be concise and avoid the slightest amount clutter or abstraction. What do you think?
  3. I think a lot of contemporary literature is just too obsessed with the details, mostly concerning random objects surrounding the characters. What do you think?

theparisreview7 karma

  1. Maybe it's because writers work with the stuff of everyday speech? It looks easy, but obviously it's as hard as any other art.

  2. "I had the same thought reading this forthcoming collection, 'The Cool School,' to be published by the Library of America. I wish some of our younger "transgressive" writers had a little more Art Pepper in them." —Lorin

  3. "That's, like, your opinion, man." —Sadie

tyvekwindbreaker2 karma

With regards to your website, have you ever considered breaking out of the "blog post" and experimenting with new forms of digital presentation that integrate media in less conventional ways? I'm thinking of something akin to Triple Canopy's interactive platform. Could you name a few literary journals that you consider to have markedly "innovative" online content?

theparisreview2 karma

"Yeah, no." —Stephen

chazaq2 karma

In regards to the western cannon, what contemporary works do you believe will endure the baptism of time and become classics? What will people still be reading from our era on the 160th anniversary of the Paris Review?

PS: What are your personal top 3 English Novels (from any time)?

theparisreview4 karma

"To answer a question like that is to be the fool of time." —Lorin

deshabble2 karma

So how do I get my hands on a copy?

theparisreview5 karma

finnarun2 karma

How can I get one of your TPR t-shirts before they sell out on the website? :)

theparisreview3 karma

"Join the softball team!" —Stephen

Ada_Love2 karma

Hey guys. I just have to say that you're the best part of my Instagram feed. Thanks for classy-fying social media.

theparisreview3 karma

"Justin's the man." —Everyone else

pteam-pterodactyl2 karma

What really grabs your attention in a story and makes you keep reading?

theparisreview3 karma

"I like to read a grown-up writing about grown-up things." —Lorin

hannah68762 karma

What about Emma Cline's story?

robbo842 karma

Whose handwriting is that in the sign?

theparisreview5 karma

Clare Bear's!

TryWhistlin2 karma

Will you commit to publishing one of these AMA comments in your next issue?

theparisreview2 karma

Certainly not!

elkmache2 karma

So I read what you guys don't usually go for: stories about hunting, mfa programs, doors slaming shut, speculative fiction, etc.

Do you take kindly to quirky fiction that still falls under realism? Examples: Iris Murdoch, John Kennedy Toole.

Do you ever accept short stories that are more humorous or playful in nature?

What about picaresque?

What about stories that contain absurdist elements?

theparisreview3 karma

Subscribe and find out!

We give a $5000 annual prize (The Terry Southern Prize for Humor) honoring work from either The Paris Review or The Paris Review Daily that embodies the qualities of humor, wit, and sprezzatura.

DNASnatcher2 karma

Hey guys, thanks for doing the AMA! I'm loving your responses so far.

Just out of curiosity, what do you guys think of McSweenys Journal?

theparisreview2 karma

We're big fans!

m_shapiro2 karma

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to meet the people behind this influential literary magazine!

My question is if you each have particular favorite pieces that are being published in the upcoming Fall issue?

theparisreview2 karma

"'God' by Benjamin Nugent." —Stephen

"You can put me down for the Carrère interview." —Clare

"The Seidel." —Hailey

"Dutch Scenes." —Justin

"I love everything in the magazine. They're laughing [we are] but it's always true." —Lorin

Umair-2 karma

There is a picture of you guys on your blog. Can you match the names to the faces?

theparisreview2 karma

Left to right: Stephen, Sadie, Justin, Lorin, and Clare (couchant).

zdickson2 karma

Is your online content composed merely of pieces that don't make the printed cut? In order to write an online piece for you guys, must you first receive publication in the review?

theparisreview2 karma

It's a completely different medium. If you compare the quarterly to the Daily, you'll see there's very little overlap in the kinds of things we publish.

And: By no means!

m_shapiro2 karma

Are there any authors who refuse to be published or interviewed in the Review? Specifically, authors you wish you could work with but who won't cooperate - and if, so why not?

theparisreview3 karma

A handful, but we've been lucky so far.

Cazcom1 karma

I'm so thrilled that you're doing an AMA. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions:

  • In your opinion, what role do literary magazines play in the overall literary landscape?

  • Do you see literary magazines as integral, ancillary, or supplemental to the development/exposure of writers and/or readers (especially given the myriad of places available to publish and pick up books these days), and in what ways?

  • And how does your interpretation of the literary magazine's role translate to decisions you have to make day-in and day-out?

theparisreview3 karma

This came up in our recent Charlie Rose interview. John Jeremiah Sullivan was especially eloquent on exactly these questions.

TL;DR: Nope, watch the whole video!

existentialbagel1 karma

Print: what's been lost?

(also, how heavily do you edit?)

theparisreview3 karma


sickaduck1 karma

How much editing do you do on the stories that you accept for publication? I'd imagine that to get published at all a story needs to be ironed out at every sentence. Do you significantly alter submissions before you publish them or is it small corrections or "as is"?

theparisreview3 karma

It depends—but it's safe to say there are no fixer-uppers in our pages. We have to be strongly convinced by the story as it exists upon submission.

J_Sto1 karma

Can you speak to the amount of editing work you do on a piece choosen from the slush pile? For instance are most submissions ready-to-publish, or do you invest any content editing time with writers?

theparisreview3 karma

We give plenty of time to editing and copyediting (and even fact-checking), but with submissions it's love at first sight or it's no soap.

Waker_Glass1 karma

What stories have you really loved, but were unable to publish? Do you keep them around just in case, or do you send back regretful rejections? Is there a story that you regret passing on?

theparisreview3 karma

"Every editor has regrets." —Lorin

Monomaniac181 karma


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