Whether it’s surliness, awkwardness, or a rare meeting of minds, any number of qualities can make an interview great. Here are some of our favorites.
1) Two of my favorite interview series right now are Entropy’s own YOU MAKE ME FEEL series, curated by Gina Abelkop (for the waves of enthusiasms it prompts from its subjects) and the Triangle PA’s Visual Interviews (in which the editors send writers a disposable cameras and a list of items to photograph).
2) All-time fave interview subject is Tori Amos for her radical sincerity and general wackiness. Here she is interviewed by Roseanne:
Choice cut: “I finally realized that Lucifer is a woman, wears white, and drives an ice cream truck.”
3) Kanye West being stonefaced and uncooperative in the face of Jimmy Kimmel’s condescension:
extra one) Also really love Lidia Yuknavitch in conversation with Vanessa Veselka in “Violence”.
Thomas Brewster Trudgeon:
Interview with Richard Prince
I like this because it has the right energy.
Joseph Michael Owens:
There are very real differences between science fiction and realistic fiction, between horror and fantasy, between romance and mystery. Differences in writing them, in reading them, in criticizing them. Vive les différences! They’re what gives each genre its singular flavor and savor, its particular interest for the reader—and the writer.
1) Mila Kunis interviewed by Chris Stark on Radio 1
2) Almost any interview or conversation with Werner Herzog, but here’s this AND this:
Alex Kalamaroff :
1) The Raymond Carver Paris Review interview has always had a special place in my heart:
…finally, a writer is judged by what he writes, and that’s the way it should be. The circumstances surrounding the writing are something else, something extraliterary. Nobody ever asked me to be a writer. But it was tough to stay alive and pay bills and put food on the table and at the same time to think of myself as a writer and to learn to write.
2) And for something a little more frisky Bette Davis on the Dick Cavett show is such a fun romp.
Would you like to play a game?
Sure, I love games.
Even though I have seen many of their videos and photos, as soon as I’m in front of these women, I am struck by how they look far more remarkable than I had expected, even though Mel C is trying not to look as lovely as she is. I had intended to say something else, but instead I find myself asking them: ‘If paradise existed, what would it look like?’ Geri speaks first, and she is, I think, reprimanding me for being idealistic.
2) How about any Bjork interview, ever.
Will Vincent :
1) For Bjork on TV:
“You shouldn’t let poets lie to you.”
I didn’t have a manifesto. I had some discontent. It seemed to me that midcentury mainstream American science fiction had often been triumphalist and militaristic, a sort of folk propaganda for American exceptionalism. I was tired of America-as-the-future, the world as a white monoculture, the protagonist as a good guy from the middle class or above. I wanted there to be more elbow room. I wanted to make room for antiheroes.
3) Vidal on why Calvino is the only writer who matters/ because he dismisses Faulkner and Hemingway with a few surrealistic insults:
Hemingway’s Paris Review interview, because he’s insufferable during it and it’s very entertaining, while also being a little bit insightful.
When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
1) BBC nature show host David Attenborough on Darwin, evolution, and humanity’s relationship to the natural world:
BBC and Attenborough’s fantastic nature shows are among the reasons I took a higher education in science.
2) Physics professor and tv presenter Brian Cox on the heat death of the universe
I could listen to this guy talk science all day. And here’s something a bit more interactive with the audience, a lecture for young students:
3) Comedy duo Ylvis’ interaction and messing with travelers as “the intelligent elevator, the Intelevator”
1) Could probably include just about any interview from the Paris Review, but I’ll stick with Ray Bradbury’s because of how inspiring and awesome he is here.
Science fiction is the fiction of ideas. Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I’m borrowing energy from the ideas themselves. Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.
2) And then there’s Wong Kar Wai because he’s Wong Kar Wai:
3) Tom Waits is always awesome:
What I love about Tom Waits interviews is how hilarious he is and how people just don’t seem to get him even a little bit.
1) Audre Lorde and James Baldwin’s conversation from essence magazine– two brilliant minds getting into it and blowing our brains.
JB: …Du Bois believed in the American dream. So did Martin. So did Malcolm. So do I. So do you. That’s why we’re sitting here.
AL: I don’t, honey. I’m sorry, I just can’t let that go past. Deep, deep, deep down I know that dream was never mine.
2) Also this interview with teenage Annabella Lwin (of Bow Wow Wow) bc she’s SO SURLY
1) Tom Snyder & John Lydon (and Keith Levene), 1980 and 1997:
2) Arthur Taylor’s NOTES AND TONES.
David Foster Wallace, the uncut interview