'Always Apprentices' edited by Sheila Heti, Ross Simonini and Vendela Vida

In "Always Apprentices: The Believer Magazine Presents Twenty-Two Conversations Between Writers," we learn that when Joan Didion was learning to write, she would retype the beginning passages from Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms" on her standard Royal typewriter.

Colum McCann and Aleksandar Hemon began their conversation in Lyon, France, over many whiskeys, which led to both men breaking into song — "Waltzing Matilda" — in a bar. They also communicated via email.

The conversations are wide-ranging. Sheila Heti and Mary Gaitskill, for instance, talk about marriage. Gaitskill tells Heti that she and her husband have a "pretty mutually supportive relationship, but sometimes we joke about, Somebody needs to be the wife around here! Where's the wife? Will somebody please be the wife!"

The interview format is reborn in these pages — and it's engaging stuff, a reminder of the richness that can be found in conversation.

Elizabeth Taylor, literary editor

'Always Apprentices'

Edited by Sheila Heti, Ross Simonini and Vendela Vida

McSweeney's/Believer Books, 352 pages, $16 paperback

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