Carrie Brownstein photographed by Autumn de Wilde
Before Carrie Brownstein had fans, she was one. Growing up in Redmond, Washington, she mock-interviewed the posters on her bedroom walls (Duran Duran, Elvis, James Dean); pleaded to attend a 1985 Madonna concert à la mode in her mother’s wedding dress (request denied); and wrote “inappropriately long letters” to Ralph Macchio, Hollywood’s Brat Pack, and assorted daytime TV soap stars.
“A response, any response, implied that I existed, that I was not a weirdo, that I’d be okay. I ...
We talk to the author of IT ENDED BADLY
Jennifer Wright photographed by Eric T. White
Jennifer Wright is sorry to hear about your terrible breakup. When you drove to the 24-hour Krispy Kreme with tears in your eyes, purchased two dozen “hot now” glazed doughnuts and smashed them all over your ex’s dorm window? She sympathizes with that. She will even acknowledge it as pretty bad/embarrassing. But it’s certainly not the worst breakup in history.
“If your breakup makes you behave like a tormented, crazed shell of your former self, you are not ...
Karen Olsson photographed by Matt Valentine.
For those called to testify before the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions, Iran-Contra was an affair to remember. To Karen Olsson—a teenager at the time—the scandal and resultant investigation all seemed rather nebulous.
“It’s one of those things that lurks on the fringes of your memory, because it happened before I was quite old enough to be aware of it and interpret it in an adult way,” Olsson says. “I was in ninth grade, and I ...
Gregory Maguire photographed by Andy Newman
“I don’t know about you, but I have an extremely vigorous dream life,” says Gregory Maguire. One imagines!—and one is not disappointed to learn that, just prior to our morning phone interview, he dreamt of his dead mother and dead stepmother in conversation with 36th President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lynda Bird Johnson Robb.
Maguire is an interviewer’s dream: nimble-minded, never mumbles, elucidative, ever-humble bestselling author, Broadway VIP, English and American literature PhD—best-known for his skillfully skewed perspectives ...
Lauren Redniss photographed by Abigail Pope
In the case of author-illustrator Lauren Redniss’ latest book, a joke precipitated a brainstorm.
“The story is that I finished my last book, Radioactive—I had to learn a lot of physics for it—and I was kind of feeling burnt out,” says Redniss. “I was just chatting with a friend and said, ‘Ugh, I’m exhausted, my next next book is going to be about clouds and rainbows.’ ”
“I was just being flip, but then I started to ...
Paul Murray photographed by Clíona O'Flaherty
What are the odds that an enterprising Irish novelist sees an everyman in a lonesome French investment banker?
“Idea for a novel: we have a banker rob his own bank,” Paul Murray writes in opening The Mark and the Void, the follow-up to his breakout comic novel Skippy Dies.
Ah! So, apparently, not good. And yet in the novel, Paul, author of the critically massacred literary fiction For Love of a Clown, convinces Claude, a junior analyst ...
Amy Ellis Nutt photographed by Eva Niles
Among Amy Ellis Nutt’s well-wishers in 2011, when she won the Pulitzer Prize, was Jennifer Levi, a long-lost grad-school friend.
While Nutt was becoming an award-winning investigative journalist, Levi had become a lawyer and director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Transgender Rights Project. Levi legally represented the family of a transgender girl forced to use segregated bathrooms at school—the news item had gone national in the Boston Globe—and wanted to know if Nutt was interested ...
Susan Cheever photographed by Michael Falco
The Pilgrims may have been brave. According to Susan Cheever, they were definitely drunk.
“The Pilgrims landed the Mayflower at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on a cold November day in 1620 because they were running out of beer,” Cheever writes in Drinking in America: Our Secret History. “Their legal charter from King James was for a grant of land in Northern Virginia, but instead they anchored illegally and carved their first community from the sand, laying the foundation of ...