77 North Washington Street

"WRITING is a sacred calling -- but so are gardening, dentistry, and plumbing, so don't put on airs." Garrison Keillor, the host of the Public Radio International show A Prairie Home Companion and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, dispensed this observation in an interview posted on our World Wide Web site, known as Atlantic Unbound (www.TheAtlantic.com), while discussing his new novel, Wobegon Boy.

Every few weeks an Atlantic author discusses a recent book, article, or short story with Atlantic Unbound editors. Past interviews have featured Paul Theroux, Tobias Wolff, Cynthia Ozick, Jane Smiley, Howard Frank Mosher, Tess Gallagher, James Carroll, Donald Hall, and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. E. Annie Proulx, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Shipping News, on her predilection for writing from a male point of view: "I grew up with only sisters. I always wanted a brother and I liked the things that men did. For me the invented male character puts the brother I didn't have into a kind of reality." Chitra Divakaruni, on the positive effects of being uprooted: "I think being an expatriate is good for writers. Moving away from a home culture often allows a kind of disjunctive perspective that is very important." Here is Charles Baxter, asked why his recent short-story collection, Believers, contains so much violence: "One of the interesting features about violence is that it's the meeting point of desire and destruction. It takes you to that boundary where respectability ends and darkness starts to fall, as desire gets out of hand." The eminent scientist Edward O. Wilson describing a lifelong infatuation: "I just fell in love with them, and have never regretted it." He was talking about ants.

Last year the American Society of Magazine Editors, which is responsible for the National Magazine Awards, created a category for new media, and in that year and this, Atlantic Unbound was selected as a finalist for the award for general excellence in new media. (This year The Atlantic was also a finalist in the fiction category and won the award for public-interest reporting.) In addition to regular interviews with Atlantic authors, Atlantic Unbound includes the Poetry Pages and Audible Anthology, in which Atlantic poets read their poetry; dispatches from far-flung foreign correspondents; and essays that explore art and ideas in the digital age.


The Atlantic Monthly; August 1998; 77 North Washington Street; Volume 282, No. 12; page 4.

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