Claire Messud and James Wood might be “the First Couple of American Fiction,” but I’d also argue that their dachshund, Myskhin, is “the first Dachshund of American Magazine Profiles.” (Sorry, Felix Shteyngart.)
“Biography, even those of intellectual figures, assumes a general reader, a reader who does not understand or want to understand the ideas of its subject. The biography of a philosopher magnifies this approach, turning its attention simply to the ‘significant events’ in the life of the philosopher.” Derrida: the impossible biography?
“We live, in short, with local exceptions, in a dissociated world held together by fragile links of utility and self-promotion underpinned by laws of mutual advantage—a materialist ethos and cosmos that cannot but influence cultural representations and, hence, art, including poetry.” On John Donne and the humanity in art.
When The New York Times tried to ask Jhumpa Lahiri what immigrant fiction inspired her, she smacked the question down by saying there is no such thing as immigrant fiction. “If certain books are to be termed immigrant fiction, what do we call the rest? Native fiction? Puritan fiction? This distinction doesn’t agree with me. Given the history of the United States, all American fiction could be classified as immigrant fiction.”