great interview in this edition of the paris review with an archive re-publication of writer hilton als.
here’s an excerpt from the foreword:
in this 2016 interview conversation with the scholar jacqueline goldsby, als explains his very personal connection to james baldwin’s legacy: “baldwin was very real to me, all the time. it was through owen dodson, who was, i think, the second black person to go to the yale school of drama, and baldwin was always a living thing to me because of their relationship. owen was a great director and was the one who first staged baldwin’s play the amen corner.”
in his open, omnivorous writing on literature, visual art, and performance, hilton als has made critical analysis and introspection a conjoined practice. the essay, which he has called “a form without a form,” is his primary mode, and he invariably interweaves family and friendship, american fixations on and lived experiences of race and sexuality, metaphor and reality. in “the first step of becoming an art historian,” one of als’s earliest published pieces, from 1985, he describes coming “to realize a desire to relate the illusion of memory, based on [others’] facts, to the illusory present.” it may still be as good a statement of his purpose and methods as any.