Need to know basis
And without getting into any feverish displays of jealousy and pseudo-academic posturings, I will say the most interesting part of the evening was hearing about all the writer's little obsessions and jokes, rather than their more prescriptive or portentous moments. Like how Dorothy Parker writes two-fingered on a typewriter. Capote writes prone on a sofa or bed, smoking and drinking coffee, mint tea, then sherry and martinis. Joan Didion goes back to page one and re-types everything ("It gets me into a rhythm"). Hemingway, pompous and fetishistic, writes in the bedroom of his Havana house standing "on the worn skin of the lesser kudu", on onion-skin paper, noting his daily progress on charts.
Thankfully sanity is restored by Bellow, who refuses to discuss his work habits because "for the artist to give such loving attention to his own shoelaces [is] dangerous, even immoral". Which is precisely why you don't need to know exactly how much wine I am drinking right now, or ever. That would be dangerous, even immoral.
Paris Review Interviews, 1.
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