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Redux: Naked Lightbulb

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Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.


In the seventies, Gary Indiana found himself swept up in the experimental film and theater scenes of West Germany and New York City. “When I performed I had—and this maybe had something to do with how much I drank—a quality of demonic abandon,” he recalls in his Art of Fiction interview in our Winter issue, in which he describes the influence of directors such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Schroeter on his novels. Of course, the page, the stage, and the screen have always been bedfellows. To celebrate these intimate relationships, we’re unlocking August Wilson’s Art of Theater interview, James Salter’s short story “The Cinema,” Charles Simic’s poem “Mystery Theater,” an excerpt from Claudia Rankine’s play Help, and a portfolio of work by Ken Lum inspired by TV.

If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to The Paris Review? You’ll get four new issues of the quarterly delivered straight to your door.

August Wilson, The Art of Theater No. 14
Issue no. 153 (Winter 1999)

I don’t write for a production. I write for the page, just as I would with a poem. A play exists on the page even if no one ever reads it aloud. I don’t mean to underestimate a good production with actors embodying the characters, but depending on the readers’ imagination they may get more by reading the play than by seeing a weak production.


The Cinema
By James Salter
Issue no. 49 (Summer 1970)

A performance was built up in layers, like a painting, that was his method, to start with this, add this, then this, and so forth. It expanded, became rich, developed depths and undercurrents. Then in the end they would cut it back, reduce it to half its size. That was what he meant by good acting.


Mystery Theater
By Charles Simic
Issue no. 212 (Spring 2015)

Bald man smoking in bed,
Naked lightbulb over his head,

The shadow of his cigar
Next to him on the wall,

Its long ash about to fall
Into a pitch-dark fishbowl.


An Excerpt from Help
By Claudia Rankine
Issue no. 235 (Winter 2020)

You’ve joined us here in our liminal space, a space neither here nor there,
a space full of imaginative possibilities,
a space we move through on our way to other places,

and I want to tell you how I came to have
brief conversations
with white men.


By Ken Lum
Issue no. 133 (Winter 1994)

The catalyst for this work happened to have been a moment in Germany in 1993 when I was watching a program on TV which was the American equivalent of Current Affair. The program was dubbed, so the voices didn’t always fit. A young boy was seen riding a bicycle but pointing frantically to somewhere outside the camera frame. He was mouthing words but nothing was audible. There was a sense of drama and anxiety which I found really interesting. I’m interested in how the viewer identifies with the problems presented in the picture.


If you enjoyed the above, don’t forget to subscribe! In addition to four print issues per year, you’ll also receive complete digital access to our sixty-eight years’ worth of archives.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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