An Interview with Vivian Gornick

Gornick2 In the Boston Review:

What drives you to read a particular book?

There are people who feel obliged to read right up to the minute, whatever’s new and talked about. I’m not one of those people. I have never read with an agenda. But I do feel that I have my job as a reader, to engage fully with whatever I’m reading, that’s the only thing that matters.

How do you see your job as a critic?

I feel about writing criticism as I would about writing out of imagination. It has exactly the same responsibilities as any other kind of writing. Criticism is a window through which the writer looks and sees the world. What’s most important is those particular eyes and that particular vision and that particular way of seeing. Which, if you’re lucky, grows more and more coherent as you grow older. It’s a way of looking at things that I’ve found myself applying, not mechanically, not by virtue of agenda. So that there are all kinds of things I don’t feel obliged to read because I don’t feel they will deepen my way of seeing the world.