Though described as ``twenty interviews,'' what Pearlman (ed., American Women Writing Fiction, 1989, etc.) really gives us here is not Q&A talks but something more: brief and telling profiles of 20 women writers, with extensive conversational quotes from the authors. Pearlman presents a range of writers, encompassing veterans, relative newcomers, blacks, whites, and (one of each) Japanese-, Chinese-, Filipino- and Native Americans. Grace Paley, absent-minded and charming, who borrows Pearlman's telephone calling-card to call Pennsylvania but gets Utah instead, offers some pungent comments on literary careerism and applauds the new ethnic literatures. Sue Miller delights in seeing her books made into movies (``Anything that will broaden the audience for serious fiction is good''), while Anne Rice—whom we learn was named ``Howard O'Brien'' at birth, after her father—offers insight into American writing as a ``Protestant'' phenomena and complains about editors and book reviewers. Jessica Hagedorn, Fay Weldon, Jane Smiley, Jayne Anne Phillips, Terry Tempest Williams, and Shirley Abbott are among the others whom Pearlman speaks to in this engaging, informative collection.
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