Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Literary Readings and Conversations: Thirteen Valuable Recordings

In this interview from the early 1970s, Katherine Anne Porter speaks in a voice that is half Irish-American and half an approximation of what Marilyn Monroe's voice might have sounded like had she lived into her eighties:

Here are Norman Rush and his wife and muse Elsa at a reading and interview moderated by Mona Simpson

Here's a link to a 97-minute interview with the great Portuguese novelist Antonio Lobo Antunes. It took place in 2008 at the New York Public Library. Lobo Antunes is a laconic, difficult interview subject here, but that's probably because he's uncomfortable speaking in English.

In 1975, 60 Minutes featured a dual profile of Henry Miller and Erica Jong. Yes, Mike Wallace really interviews Henry Miller in his bed. Miller is wonderful, as always, and Jong looks poignantly young.

One night in 1981, Dick Cavett conducted a dual interview of John Cheever and John Updike. That's right, it's a Dick and two Johns. Updike and Cheever spend the half-hour complimenting each other--and they're meta enough to joke about the fact.

Here's an audio recording of Paul Celan reading his best-known poem, "Todesfuge" (Death Fugue):

Here's W.G. Sebald reading and speaking in an October 2001 appearance with Susan Sontag at the 92nd Street Y in New York:

And here's an hour-long audio recording of Vladimir Nabokov reading at the same locale almost 40 years earlier:

Junot Diaz gives good interview, and this discussion with Hilton Als at the Strand bookstore in Manhattan is an especially good example of the Dominican-American whirlwind in performance mode:

A Canadian surrealist and a literary talkshow host walk into a bar... Here's a video of a very interesting conversation between KCRW Bookworm host Michael Silverblatt and Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin. America's best literary interviewer talks with North America's most engagingly original film artist. (The introduction is long, but (unlike most such intros) quite interesting. Don't skip it.)

Here are Silverblatt and William Gass talking about and around Gass's massive magnum opus, The Tunnel, and his later Cartesian Sonata:

In 2002, Silverblatt traveled to John Berger's farmhouse in rural France and recorded this two-part conversation with the great British writer.

Finally, here's the raw unedited recording of a 2003 German TV interview with David Foster Wallace. The interviewer isn't miked, so it's necessary to adjust the volume whenever she speaks. The great thing about this interview is that Wallace knows "90% of this is going to be cut anyway;" he thus speaks more naturally, more haltingly, more intimately than he ever did on Charlie Rose, for example.

And as a bonus, here's a 1995 recording of an unknown young author named Barack Obama reading from his first book and taking audience questions. Oh, for a time machine, so I could travel back to this small room in Cambridge, Mass., and inform the audience that in 13 years, the skinny Harvard grad at the podium would be President of the United States. Check out, at 44:48, young Obama's cheeky remark about Cornel West: "Cornel West has to go back to his Bible. You gotta have faith."

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