“What I’ve found is that a lot of soldiers are surprisingly apolitical. Their reality is, ‘Today I’m going to leave the gate for twelve hours, and I’m going to make it back to the dining facility by sundown with the arms and legs of me and my buddies intact.’ So you say, ‘Well, what about the Project for the New American Century and the preexisting agenda blah blah blah?’ They go, ‘Yeah, that’s cool, but I have to get through today.’ So their reality is not a political reality as much as it’s, ‘If I’m driving by this piece of garbage, will it blow up?'” Revisit this old interview with Henry Rollins over at Guernica Magazine, which manages the nearly impossible: to be both level-headed and political.
“Two writers guard an archive. One writes Fiction; the other writes Fact. To get past them, you have to figure out which is which.” Recommended reading: The New Yoker‘s Jill Lepore attempts to trace the “long-lost story of the longest book ever written,” Joe Gould‘s The Oral History of Our Time.
Sam Jordison asks us how Heller’s Catch-22 became a bestseller. “Yossarian’s kept a lasting grip on our collective psyche; he’s the ultimate moral rebel. To object to him would be to put yourself on the side of stuffed shirts, those who kill for profit and in the name of absurd patriotism.”
For the most part, your average writer’s retreat is a pretty cushy place. Its amenities are designed to let its guests turn their energies to the difficulties of artistic work. At The Paris Review Daily, Rex Weiner writes a dispatch from a different sort of retreat — a haunted house for writers in Mexico. To read about a more traditional experience, check out our own Michael Bourne on his time at Bread Loaf.