The Paris Review is mourning the loss of our publisher and friend, Susannah Hunnewell. Over the course of her long affiliation with the magazine—she began as an editorial assistant in 1989, served as the Paris editor in the early 2000s, and in 2015 became the magazine’s seventh publisher—Susannah conducted several iconic Writers at Work interviews. She championed the work of Oulipo cofounder Harry Mathews, examined the literary corpus of French provocateur and novelist Michael Houellebecq, and bonded with Parisian nonfiction novelist Emmanuel Carrère, who said working with Susannah “left me stunned and admiring.” This week, read our Art of Nonfiction interview with Carrère, as well as Houellebecq’s short story “Submission” and Mathews’s poem “The Swimmer.”
Emmanuel Carrère, The Art of Nonfiction No. 5
Issue no. 206 (Fall 2013)
Today still, when I’m not working on anything, I’ll take a notebook, and for a few hours a day I’ll just write whatever comes, about my life, my wife, the elections, trying not to censor myself. That’s the real problem obviously—“without denaturalizing or hypocrisy.” Without being afraid of what is shameful or what you consider uninteresting, not worthy of being written. It’s the same principle behind psychoanalysis. It’s just as hard to do and just as worth it, in my opinion. Everything you think is worth writing. Not necessarily worth keeping, but worth writing.
By Michel Houellebecq
Issue no. 213 (Summer 2015)
The academic study of literature leads basically nowhere, as we all know, unless you happen to be an especially gifted student, in which case it prepares you for a career teaching the academic study of literature—it is, in other words, a rather farcical system that exists solely to replicate itself and yet manages to fail more than 95 percent of the time. Still, it’s harmless, and can even have a certain marginal value.
By Harry Mathews
Issue no. 37 (Spring 1966)
Removing my watch, pleased with the morning weather,
I dove—I would cross the Atlantic by myself Neither she,
Nor I, nor Brooklyn minded.
Still so near: I must swim harder. This striving
(On love’s anniversary she had turned to mud in my bed)
For distance and brave attitude
Corrupted the serene wishlessness …