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Writing About Writers

Talking With Elliot Weinberger

The literary man for all seasons is interviewed

Book Cover Speaking of translation (see recent item), New Directions has an interview with poet/essayist/translator Elliot Weinberger (What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles). Of the many gems and nuggets to be found there is this:
ND: What do you think it is about America that we don’t care about our writers?

EW: I think it comes from the Calvinist tradition that art is a waste of time. It’s only not a waste of time if you can make real money, or win a big prize—which is how the arts are mainly reported. Or, in the new instant celebrity culture, if you’re super good-looking. When you have something like the PEN Festival in New York, the place is full of foreign journalists filing long articles on the panel discussions, etc., and not a single reporter from the New York Times or any other American paper.
It should not go unmentioned that What Happened Here contains a compelling indictment of the Bush regime’s Iraq blunder, “What I Heard about Iraq,” that playwright Simon Levy adapted as “What I Heard about Iraq: A Cry for Six Voices.”
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