BSS #143: Katha Pollitt


Condition of Mr. Segundo: Dwelling on legal inconsistencies.

Author: Katha Pollitt

Subjects Discussed: The pragmatism in learning to drive, being lazy, observation as a strength and weakness, “webstalking” vs. Googling, responding to Toni Bentley’s review, what a feminist is supposed to be, whether or not Susan Salter Reynolds has a sense of humor, on writing life stories, Deborah Solomon, the book vs. the person, the politics of writing, whether or not “men are rats,” double entendres, inflammatory reactions, the specifics of sentences, being picked apart in The Nation, reader interpretation, meteorological solecisms, humor and sadness, observation, driving with other cars on the road, Saul Bellow’s “departure mode,” the creative destruction of New York, landmarks being torn down, Coney Island, individual writing vs. community, parental secrets, public information, self-analysis, structuring, poetry, women cast under a spell, Anais Nin, dropping romance, “sperm sisters,” and writing stories.


Pollitt: Well, this is the great thing about writing. You don’t have to give everybody a vote. You are not the community board. You’re you. I write what I think. And if somebody else feels differently, they can write their own story. Now in the real world, the people who didn’t like Coney Island won. They won.

Correspondent: I know.

Pollitt: And the people who do like Coney Island lost out. And I think that they tend to lose out. They tend to lose out. Because I think kind of a mass and corporate development is really zooming ahead in a way that, I think, is very sad.

Correspondent: I’m going to come in here with a raging burst of optimism and say, yes, the Coney Island thing, I find that personally sad. I find many things about the world extremely sad. But one must have some sort of optimism, I guess, in order to kind of carry on. One must believe in something, believe in some sort of good to at least kind of carry on in the face of a lot of terror.

Pollitt: Oh sure!

Correspondent: So I guess I’m wondering why this was not so pronounced. You actually say in this particular piece, I’m going to come across as one of those “Back in my day” kind of people. So why not go for this more all-encompassing reality of what it is to be alive?

Pollitt: Well, I think that’s in other stories.

Correspondent: Okay.

Pollitt: I think that the piece, the book as a whole, does not convey the sense of a world-weary person.

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