[An] exquisite collection . . . a book in which writers chat uninhibited and present the "writing life" with deep, measured enthusiasm, self-deprecating absurdity, or unexpected poignancy.
Rife with astonishing insights and profound quips, this collection features twenty-three conversations and correspondences between much-admired writers and the writers they admire.
This book is a collection of twenty-three conversations between writers and their “mentors,” taken from the pages of The Believer, along with previously unpublished conversations. The term “mentors” is used loosely to suggest an informal kinship between a younger writer and a more experienced one. These conversations are not limited to issues of writing and craft, but instead offer unfettered exchanges on a wide range of topics—from Buddhism to infinity, politics to mountain climbing. The interviews feature the serious-yet-casual Believer approach to the standard, often formal, interview format. David Foster Wallace, for example, fields the question, “Do you want to talk about your history with various forms of tobacco?” while George Saunders reflects upon this oft-pondered mystery: “What’s up with the crows in Syracuse?” Interviews include Zadie Smith talking with Ian McEwan; Jonathan Lethem talking with Paul Auster; Adam Thirlwell talking with Tom Stoppard; Susan Choi talking with Francisco Goldman; ZZ Packer talking with Edward P. Jones; Dave Eggers talking with David Foster Wallace; Julie Orringer talking with Tobias Wolff; and Ben Marcus talking with George Saunders.