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Culture & Literature
The Paris Review

The Paris Review Winter 2017

The Paris Review publishes the best fiction, poetry, art, and essays from new and established voices, and the Writers at Work interviews offer some of the most revealing self-portraits in literature.

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United States
The Paris Review Foundation, Inc.
4 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
dear reader:

Like many of you, we at the Review spend more and more time listening to podcasts. (We take longer doing the dishes, we do extra laps around the block, we keep one earbud in at the drugstore …) So when the audio company Stitcher proposed that we make a podcast of our own, we threw on our headphones and got to work. We wanted The Paris Review Podcast to distill everything we love about the magazine—our six decades of fiction and poetry and interviews, of course, but also true stories from The Paris Review Daily, rare tape from our archives, and a snippet of the free-flowing conversation and music that are a constant thread in the history of the Review. In our first season, available now, you’ll hear a number of…

4 min.
nick laird

CINNA THE POET I was trying to write like an adult.I had children.I was at the end of something. As I waited at my table by the window for the coffee,I saw that the sirocco had depositeda scrim of dust on the sill overnight,and it was the dark red of powdered blood,and like any of the others of my kind would have done,I graffitied it. In the past, I might have gone for a peace signor a smiley face or an ejaculating penis,but today I scrawled my name in itand my vocation,leaving my fingertip ferrous with desert. It felt like stroking suede against the nap,half illicit, the particulates milled by windand sieved by the distanceto the softness of ash or brick dust. I had been adding and subtractingsounds from my epic on the windsthat thread…

34 min.
stacy schiff

Anyone else might have easily written off a life of Véra Nabokov as impossible. In the two major biographies of her husband—both written during her lifetime, when she controlled access to his papers—she is a cipher. Her letters, either lost or destroyed, are unavailable. But where other biographers see red flags, Stacy Schiff sees opportunity. Working from a hunch—that Véra’s reticence concealed her spectacular influence behind the scenes—she produced Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), which forced a reconsideration of Nabokov’s career and won Schiff the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. The book brilliantly demonstrates that Véra was far more than her husband’s secretary and chauffeur. She was his creative partner, a dynamic mind who played a crucial role as his sounding board and muse while silently seeing to his every need,…

4 min.
four poems by brenda shaughnessy

BLUEBERRIES FOR CAL Watching little Henry, six, scoop up blueberriesand shovel them into his mouth, possessed. I’m so glad I brought blueberries—wish my kidscould/would eat them. Cal can’t; Simone won’t. Henry’s sisters, Lucy & Jane, took turns feeding eachother goldfish crackers and sips of juice. Arms around each other’s neck and back. Tiny things.I wish my daughter had a sister like that and my son a nervous system that let him walkand munch berries. Sometimes I can’t bear all the things Cal doesn’t get to do. I want to curseeverything I can’t give him. Admire/compare/despair—that’s not the most realfeeling I’m feeling, is it? I feel joy in Henry’s joy. Blueberries for the child who wants them.There’s all this energetic sweetness, enough to go around, to give and taste and trust. More than enough.For Cal, too. I want to remember…

37 min.
peter mountford

Vivian spends most of the afternoon naked and strapped to the giant ottoman in the interior decorator’s office in Bethesda. When he finally unties her, the sun is low and she’s shaky and exhausted. He paddled her hard at some point, and that hot stinging is what hurts the most as they clutch each other on his cool leather sofa and slowly return to themselves. The final hour of their session, she struggled to remain present, despite the pain, because she’d remembered that she needs to ask for a refund from Silver Stars, her youngest son’s gymnastics camp. They have a draconian refund policy, which she’s dealt with before. Staring at his burgundy pants puddled around his ankles as he stood over her, she’d contemplated what she might say to Samantha,…

1 min.
rana dasgupta

The last ones to work for dollars aroused hatred in the town, and some were subjected to regrettable acts of retribution. In our defense, it was an unusual time. We had built a beautiful system to replace wages and entertainment; people hanging on to the old currency—we saw red. But then again, there were probably those who were simply jealous. 2. Of all those benefiting from facial recognition, the least remarked upon were plastic surgeons. Clay implants were originally developed, after all, for patients who needed to deceive the cameras. The leap to fashion only happened later, when people began to mold their faces before dinner, just as they arranged their hair, and nose shapes changed with the seasons. 3. Acknowledging a calamitous decline in reproductive vigor, the town council imposed penalties on anyone…