Every week the editors of The Paris Review Use the selection for interviews, stories, poems and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these activated parts delivered directly to your inbox every Sunday by registering for the Redux newsletter.
This week at The Paris ReviewWe spend too much time online. Read on for Milan Kundera’s Art of Fiction interview, Hiromi Kawakami’s short story “Mogera Wogura” and Stephen Dunn’s poem “Historically Spoken”.
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Milan Kundera, The Art of Fiction No. 81
Issue 92 (Summer 1984)
Nowadays you can compose music with a computer, but the computer has always existed in the minds of composers – if they had to, composers could write sonatas without a single original idea by “cybernetic” expanding the rules of composition. Janáček’s purpose was to destroy this computer … My purpose is like Janáček’s: to free the novel from the automatism of the Romance technique, from the fictional spinning of words.
By Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Michael Emmerich
Issue 173 (spring 2005)
The young people who have joined the company in recent years don’t even seem to notice how different I look. I don’t think they make a conscious choice not to wonder why my shape is so different from theirs. You just can’t be bothered. Sometimes people make comments – “You’re pretty hairy, aren’t you?” – but nobody is staring at me openly or pressing me for information about my background. Until about a decade ago, people really gossiped a lot.
I sit at my computer until lunchtime and mainly deal with statistics. Sometimes a young woman comes in for general matters and asks me to use a brush to write an address on an envelope in calligraphy. I am a good calligrapher. Everyone says I write sharper looking characters than anyone else in the company.
By Stephen Dunn
Issue No. 219 (Winter 2016)
It was a year of pirates in speedboats
anonymous bullies who spread privileges
on the internet and the worst of them
Do worse and want to know
for what they’d done, their perfidy
an advertisement for a reason.
So it’s been a bad year for historians
whose stories could not be correct
longer than a few days. More than ever
the imperfections of memory
would combine with the smoothness
the documentation for creating versions
only people who don’t need to be convinced
could agree with …
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