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Obsession had brought me to Joseph McElroy’s apartment building. I was vibrating from too much caffeine. I had been up late with his 1,200-page novel, Women and Men, suffering the long-forgotten nervousness of cramming for a difficult final. The elevator opened directly into his apartment—a surprise. I hadn’t prepared my facial expression. McElroy, in a purple checked shirt tucked neatly into neutral pants, greeted me cautiously. As he led me through a maze of books, I noted the strength of his voice and the way, at eighty-seven, he walked with only the faintest hint of caution. I sat in his study beneath a large printed photo of McElroy himself staring angrily down at me. For the past decade, every time I’d entered a used bookstore, it was with the hope of finally finding a copy of Women and Men. Now I was interviewing its author, something that I’d had no desire to do.

                                                                  CONTINUE READING IN THE PARIS REVIEW


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