The interviews contained in The Paris Review Interviews, IV, edited by Philip Gourevitch (Picador), the latest volume in the series, run chronologically from William Styron (1954) to Marilynne Robinson (2008) by way of fourteen other writers, including three who happen to be personal favourites of mine: Jack Kerouac (1968), E.B. White (1969) and Paul Auster (2003). Together with the three previous volumes, these interviews are an invaluable source of inspiration, encouragement and advice for practising (and would-be) writers.
Some of this advice will seem self-evident: in discussing the importance of discipline, for example, E.B. White comments that “diversion or no diversion, in the end a man must sit down and get the words on paper, and against great odds.” But even the most obvious points carry greater weight when they’ve been printed up and bound—or, more important, when they come directly from the lips of a writer whom one admires.
Sometime early in 2005, the Paris Review flirted with the idea of making all of their interviews available for free via their website, but they seem to have backed away from that noble goal (although a sampling of the interviews are available as PDFS). In the meantime we’ve got these four volumes, and I’d be willing to bet that there are more to come.