THE BELIEVER: Do you think there’s a difference between people who start off writing nonfiction and then write fiction, versus people who start off writing nonfiction and then write fiction? Do you think the order matters?
RENATA ADLER: There are so many different types of writers. It’s just sheer coincidence that they’re all called writers. I once sat at lunch next to Baryshnikov. He drank scotch; he smoked. Then he got up and did dance steps. It was so beautiful. I thought, “This man is from another planet.” He was just so much more beautiful than anyone else. I think maybe writers come from different planets. I mean, not in any sense as extravagant as Baryshnikov. But there are some writers who understand each other this way and others who understand each other that way. Then there’s this great herd, the “herd of independent minds.”
Brilliant critic, essayist and novelist Renata Adler is interviewed by Alice Gregory in an Online Exclusive over at The Believer. Once a talked-about media darling, she’s back again at 74 (reprising that old role!) after a decade-long retreat from the literary world. The New York Review of Books has just reissued her cult classics, Speedboat and Pitch Dark. And if you’ve never read her Pauline Kael take-down, read it here. But first check out our interview.
Photo: Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos/New York Magazine