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Thursday, January 07, 2010

On an open fire

Marc Bousquet has now “put up” on the “internet” the full and unexpurgated transcript of the controversial minnesota review parody interview Janet and I conducted with Jeffrey Williams in 1994, which has just been published in the collector’s-item mr “Roast Issue.” Warning: This interview is not for the faint of heart!  (NSFFH!) Williams is a notoriously difficult interviewee who curses, as they say, like a sailor.  “Profane, forthright, daring and stylish, Williams made editing an academic journal into a platform for public intellectualism to an extent unmatched by anyone of his generation,” Bousquet writes.  Yes, well, that’s the polite version.  There’s a more accurate way to say this:  I’ve seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than try to interview Jeff. 

Here’s Marc’s tribute post and his own (real) interview with Jeff.  And here (NSFFH) is our interview.  The first third of it is taken almost verbatim from “reality,” that is, from a real conversation Jeff, Janet and I had fifteen summers ago in North Carolina.  Then it gets a bit more fanciful.  (My favorite part is the bit about the steam-powered linotype machine and the binding glue.  And people who have been reading this blog for untold eons will surely pick up the latest variation on Ye Olde Grundrisse joke.)

Also in this issue, as Marc works overtime to digitize the analog:

Tina May Hall, “Fictional Flowchart”

David Downing, “The Roast-a-Way”

Katie Hogan, “Student Debt”

Amitava Kumar, “At the MLA with Jeff”

Bruce Robbins, “For Jeff—An Undone Roast”

H. Aram Veeser, “The Disquieting Jeff Williams”

Jess Wilson, “The Editor Hits the Court”

ARG Collective, “Top Ten Jeff Williams Editorial Comments”

ARG Collective, “A Mad Lib”

Jeffrey R. Di Leo, “Top Ten Reasons that Jeff Williams Should Continue to Edit mr

Vincent B. Leitch, “A Most True Portrait of Jeffrey Williams:  A Dozen Little-Known Things about the Man”

Kathy M. Newman, “An Entry from Jeff Williams’ Day Planner”

And—I promise this is not another “read the whole thing” Grundrisse joke, because sometimes those little jokes make people angry—you can read the whole entire issue (with contributions from Michelle Massé, Louis Menand, Lennard Davis, Gerald Graff, Jeff Nealon, Cary Nelson, and many many more, including truly inspired parody-interviews by Eyal Amiran and Dick Ohmann) in a “portable document format” right here.

Many many thanks to Marc for stuffing all this material into the Intertubes, and, once again, to the inimitable Heather Steffen for putting together this Top Seekrit Project in a matter of weeks.  And most of all, congratulations to Jeff for eighteen remarkable years in which he made mr one of the most lively and important journals in the humanities.

Posted by Michael on 01/07 at 09:14 AM
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