A Visit From Lorin Stein

by Amelia (’13)

As a Creative Writing senior, I’ve had my fair share of rejection emails from publications I submit my work to. Without fail, they open with a seemingly cheery “Thank you Amelia!” before the ominous “but,” and to polish it all off, “we could not accept your work at this time.” I remember feeling enraged at the fact that a stranger could not see the genius (or potential, mostly potential) my classmates saw in my work. I imagined magazine and literary journal editors as stodgy old men who read the first three words of my piece before laughing maniacally at it and sending it straight to junk mail.

Lorin Stein of The Paris Review is no such editor. First of all he’s not old, or stodgy, and I can’t imagine him laughing at the efforts of a fellow literary mind (with a few exceptions I’ll keep within the department). His humility and appreciation for the contributions of writers like myself are both a huge relief and reassuring for someone who is interested in entering the publishing and editing field. What the department anticipated as a lecture became a two hour discussion about personal history, ambition, the turmoil of self-interest and the interest of the magazine and the art of translation. How wonderful it is to have no preconceived notions of a literary figure and discover he is very much a man doing what he loves for the pleasure of other people. umläut is sending him a care package of our own editing expertise, for good measure of course. I find myself eager as a freshman to dole out the next round of pieces to the next round of journals and zines, in the hope and confidence that like Lorin Stein, they’ll feel bad about saying no.

Lorin Stein to visit CW

We just got confirmation that we’ll have a last-minute guest tomorrow during CW! Before he appears in an event at City Lights tomorrow night, the editor of The Paris Review, Lorin Stein, is going to come to our class to talk about his work as an editor, writer, and translator. He’s also somewhat of a literary celebrity in New York. This is a very special opportunity!

Since its founding in 1953, the Paris Review has introduced some of the most important writers of the day. Adrienne Rich was first published in its pages, as were Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, Mona Simpson, Edward P. Jones, and Rick Moody. Selections from Samuel Beckett’s novel Molloy appeared in the fifth issue, one of his first publications in English. The magazine was also among the first to recognize the work of Jack Kerouac, with the publication of his short story, “The Mexican Girl,” in 1955.

Other milestones of contemporary literature, now widely anthologized, also first made their appearance in The Paris Review: Italo Calvino’s Last Comes the Raven, Philip Roth’s Goodbye Columbus, Donald Barthelme’s Alice, Jim Carroll’s Basketball Diaries, Peter Matthiessen’s Far Tortuga, Jeffrey Eugenides’s Virgin Suicides, and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.

Lorin Stein is only the 3rd editor of the Review in its 50+ years of its existence. Mr. Stein is also a critic and translator, and before editing the Review, he was an editor at one of the most preeminent literary publishing houses, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (FSG). While at FSG, Stein made his name finding and editing the work of such authors as Elif Batuman, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Sam Lipsyte, Richard Price and James Wood. He also worked on FSG’s recent translations of fiction by Roberto Bolaño and is the translator from the French of “The Mystery Guest” by Gregoire Bouillier.

Books edited by Stein have received the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Believer Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.[2]

His reviews of fiction and poetry and his translations from French have appeared in The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The London Review of Books, The New Republic, n+1, and the Salon Guide to Contemporary Fiction.