The World Within: Writers Talk

Claribel Alegria, Contribution by, Sherman Alexie, Contribution by, Tracy Chevalier, Contribution by . Tin House $16.95 (364p) ISBN 978-0-9776989-6-7

In informal interviews with colleagues, more than 20 writers sound off about their passions, pet peeves, literary inspirations and obstacles. Claribel Alegría describes to Debbie Fields her commitment to the Nicaraguan revolution and how politically conservative Salvadoran relatives burned her books; Deborah Eisenberg discusses with Anna Keesey the political ignorance of ordinary Americans and why she lacks the nerve for playwriting. Sherman Alexie explains to Bob Spillman how writing about Indian middle-class domesticity can be revolutionary and castigates Ian Frazier for “colonial” literature; Lydia Davis explores with Rick Moody her translation of Proust’s Swann’s Way , and Anita Desai reveals to Ben George that she hid her writing life from her young children and why there’s so little sex in her works. Tin House laudably gives some well-deserved attention to a number of writers who aren’t household names, though the inclusion of filmmaker Gus Van Sant is incongruous. Also, interviews assume readers have deep familiarity with the writers’ works, and the book suffers from the lack of a thorough, organizing preface and from cliquishness—Denis Johnson and Charles D’Ambrosio are both interviewers and interviewees; and Keesey gushes to Eisenberg that it’s been her life’s mission to increase Eisenberg’s readership. (Jan. 15)

Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
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