The Best of BOMB Magazine's Interviews with Writers
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G+B Arts--dist. by D.A.P. (298 pp.) $49.95 paper $24.95 Jun. 12, 1998 ISBN: 90-5701-271-5 paper 90-5701-351-7 It would at first be difficult to find fault with this clubby, generous anthology of interviews previously published in the pages of BOMB magazine, a respected journal of contemporary arts; it becomes easier as one grows ever more aware that the book, as conceived, lacks all reason for being. The volume is weighted toward writers of fiction (Russell Banks, Peter Carey, Tobias Wolff, et al.), with a few poets (James Merrill among them) and fence-sitters (Michael Ondaatje, Jeanette Winterson, Sapphire, and the ubiquitous Paul Auster) as well. The sampling seems diverse enough, amiably accommodating differences of geography, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Nonetheless, the proceedings have about them an air of almost corporate homogeneity. The aggrandizement is only reinforced by the copious listing (in an appendix) of prizes and honors accrued by each writer and interviewer. It is certainly, then, an unintended irony that this familiar array of authors--in their words as in their writing--should serve to illustrate the very narrowness of our literature, as defined not only by the publishers and university writing programs but, the more pitiably, by journals of culture like BOMB. Further, the editorial decision to utilize interviewers who are, in numerous cases, friends, even acolytes, of the writers involved precludes the sorts of tension that allow for revelation in this format. Carole Maso, who interviews Lucie Brock-Broido, is not only sycophantic in that task, but provides an overview of the poet’s work so smug and hyperbolic as to be unreadable; ditto Jim Lewis with respect to his charge, Bradford Morrow. A few of the authors do, however, fare a bit better. Fans won’t mind a peek through the windows of this venerable establishment; others are advised to seek out insight elsewhere. (25 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 12th, 1998
ISBN: 90-5701-271-5
Page count: 298pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998