Spring 2006 Paris Review, in summer

After two months and ten days, five email messages, and one phone call to Jackson, Mississippi, my copy of the Spring 2006 Paris Review finally arrived on Friday.

When I ordered it on April 13, I bitched about having to wait “1-2 weeks.” Now I understand so much more viscerally how painful a protracted case of blue balls can be.

(But then, the delay was probably karmic retribution for that crack.)

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s “Most Livable City” — the reason I ordered the issue — is hilarious and troubling. Here’s the paragraph that follows the last line of the online excerpt (“My cock feels full with the thought of you in my heart”).

In 1985, Pittsburgh had been chosen “most livable city” in the country by Places Rated Almanac. This allowed the municipal government to stop bothering to improve anything and to pour all of its money instead into signs that read PITTSBURG: MOST LIVABLE CITY. If people complained about life in this most livable city, then, well, maybe they were the problem themselves. When the bus drivers went on strike, it was portrayed by City Hall as a selfish act of sabotage: the drivers should be happy with what they made, which was a hell of a lot more than those making minimum wage at four dollars and twenty-five cents and hour — who should also be happy with what they made.

I recommend picking up the issue just for that story, but I was impressed with the strength of the magazine overall. I had nightmares about a strikingly fucked-up image from Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s “My Darling Monkey” — think The Painted Bird, but with primates. The long interview with Joan Didion covers far more than her latest book (which I have, for some reason, no interest in reading, even though I’m a longtime fan and couldn’t wait for it to appear). An article about Jeremy Sivitz, one of the soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib debacle, looks like something everyone should read. I’m saving it for the long weekend.

And I keep mulling over these lines from Tennessee Williams’ notebooks:

I believe that the way to write a good play is to convince yourself that it is easy to do — then go ahead and do it with ease.

Don’t maul, don’t suffer, don’t groan — till the first draft is finished.

Then, Calvary, but not till then.

But I don’t understand why there’s no way to access stories online once you pay for them.


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