October 3, 2011

I can’t tell you how cool this is (though I will try) — Liao Yiwu being introduced by Salman Rushdie, among others, playing music & then reading, nose to his own text, as if it were scripture.

He recently escaped from China by traveling overland from Yunnan province into Vietnam and somehow through Poland to Germany, where he has established himself, for the moment at least, in Berlin. One difference he’s noted is that the prostitutes there are more polite than in China.

For an interview with Liao about his escape, head over to the New York Review of Books blog.  For a sampling of Liao’s work, go to the Paris Review back when it was edited by Philip Gourevitch and you’ll find surreal interviews that just happen to be of & about real people — talk about magical realism.

I wonder how much & in what ways Liao shaped the interviews before they appeared in print, to be honest, but every interviewer does it one way or another. (Truman Capote’s famous interviews don’t even make realistic fiction.)

The video comes courtesy of the PEN American Center & The New School in New York City. A slightly different version appears at the Pen American Center’s website.

August 23, 2011
 
INTERVIEWER
What are some of your personal quirks?
CAPOTE
I suppose my superstitiousness could be termed a quirk. I have to add up all numbers: there are some people I never telephone because their number adds up to an unlucky figure. Or I won’t accept a hotel room for the same reason. I will not tolerate the presence of yellow roses—which is sad because they’re my favorite flower. I can’t allow three cigarette butts in the same ashtray. Won’t travel on a plane with two nuns. Won’t begin or end anything on a Friday. It’s endless, the things I can’t and won’t. But I derive some curious comfort from obeying these primitive concepts.

INTERVIEWER

What are some of your personal quirks?

CAPOTE

I suppose my superstitiousness could be termed a quirk. I have to add up all numbers: there are some people I never telephone because their number adds up to an unlucky figure. Or I won’t accept a hotel room for the same reason. I will not tolerate the presence of yellow roses—which is sad because they’re my favorite flower. I can’t allow three cigarette butts in the same ashtray. Won’t travel on a plane with two nuns. Won’t begin or end anything on a Friday. It’s endless, the things I can’t and won’t. But I derive some curious comfort from obeying these primitive concepts.

August 23, 2011
This is how it feels sometimes. That’s why writers, like baseball players, are often superstitious, their desks littered with objects, mementoes, that are really juju.

This is how it feels sometimes. That’s why writers, like baseball players, are often superstitious, their desks littered with objects, mementoes, that are really juju.

(Source: theparisreview)