vice interviews john calder

Huw Nesbit: What made you remark that you believe Burroughs to be an important writer but not a great one?

John Calder: He had no interest in style. He never revised anything. He just enjoyed the act of writing. I remember sitting down with him when we were preparing Naked Lunch, and saying to him: ‘Look, this character on page so-and-so, it’s really the same one under another name a hundred pages later, isn’t it?’ and he’d say: ‘Yes, you’re probably right’. He was only interested in what he was doing in the moment and that is not the sign of a great writer. He was a good artist, but not a great craftsman.”

(from the new fiction issue. Also! a new translation of Kleist’s “The Earthquake in Chile” by Peter Wortsman (with reading!), and an interview with Ursula Le Guin.)

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