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March 23, 2005

Interview Roundup: Where the Story Takes You

by Ron Hogan

Robert Birnbaum's back in action, pigeonholing Nick Flynn on Another Bullshit Night in Suck City:

"It wasn't any preconceived reason to write it. I don't sit down and think, 'This is the book I am going to write next.' This is the book that came out, really. As I was writing it I started to think why I might continue writing it, to keep going with it. Some of those reasons were that it seemed like it didn't want to be written. It seemed like I was pushing against something; it seems like it was something that other people had a hard time keeping in their heads. The sentence with the words 'father' and 'homeless' in it, people's eyes would go blank. So that seemed a good place to go."

MediaBistro scored one of the first interviews with new Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch, who hopes to extend the magazine's ability "not to become defined with some particular moment or school or generation, but to stay quite current and in the moment with the changing times." He'd love more readers, he adds, but he won't try to reverse-engineer a magazine desirable to a large audience. He'll just keep doing the Paris Review, and "if we do it right and more people know what is in there, more people will be reading it."

Dana Gioia's legacy at the National Endowment for the Arts is already a bit more radical than that. This profile remarks on his successes in restoring the agency's somewhat tarnished reputation in political circles, to the point where the most conservative mass of executive and legislative personnel is steadily increasing NEA funding.

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