Friday, March 06, 2009

Christian Talks Christianity (and Other Subjects)

A couple of years ago, I linked to an essay by Christian Wiman in The American Scholar. Wiman is the editor of Poetry magazine, and his first name is an accurate description of him. Jessa Crispin recently interviewed him, and I enjoyed it. Much of it focuses on religion, but here are two bits, one about geography, one about Philip Roth:
JC: Do you like Chicago?

CW: I do like it, but it’s taken me a while. I really love the west coast. I’ve lived in San Francisco and Seattle and I love the openness of both places, and the way the natural environment so permeates the city. But Chicago’s an interesting place, with a lot of interesting people. It’s a city that doesn’t exactly reveal itself as immediately as a place like San Francisco, and it doesn’t impose its identity on you like New York. I would go crazy in New York.

JC: Would you ever go back to Texas?

CW: I would. Under the right circumstances. That landscape is just in my blood, and I find it so useful to my work to be there, it stirs things up in my consciousness. And talk about interesting people!

But there are certain things about Texas that drive me insane. The politics. The religiosity. I would probably be a militant atheist if I had stayed in Texas.
CW: The paradox is that you need a strong ego to make art, but too much of it and the work is corrupted. You can see whole careers stained with it. To my mind, Philip Roth is a pretty good example. He’s a wonderful writer, but his ego has just completely saturated his work; it’s all you feel when reading him. I’m put off by it.

JC: I’m very glad to hear you say that. I feel exactly the same way about Philip Roth.
I feel that way about Roth, too.

(Via Maud Newton)


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