Why not? Of course, in a strict sense a poet, a novelist, is not a public figure, not an exotic potentate, not an international lover, not a person one would be proud to call Jim. I can quite understand people wanting to know my writings, but I cannot sympathize with anybody wanting to know me. As a human specimen, I present no particular fascination. My habits are simple, my tastes banal. I would not exchange my favorite fare (bacon and eggs, beer) for the most misspelt menu in the world. I irritate some of my best friends by the relish with which I list the things I hate — nightclubs, yachts, circuses, pornographic shows, the soulful eyes of naked men with lots of Guevara hair in lots of places. It may seem odd that such a modest and unassuming person as I should not disapprove of the widespread practice of self-description. No doubt some literary interviews are pretty awful: trivial exchanges between sage and stooge, or even worse, the French kind, starting «Jeanne Dupont, qui etes-vous?» (who indeed!) and sporting such intolerable vulgarisms as «insolite» and «ecriture» (French weeklies, please note!). I do not believe that speaking about myself can encourage the sales of my books. What I really like about the better kind of public colloquy is the opportunity it affords me to construct in the presence of my audience the semblance of what I hope is a plausible and not altogether displeasing personality.
The novelist John Gardner referred to this far from displeasing, highly entertaining personality: Think of the superbly controlled sadist-snob image Hitchcock created for himself. Think of Nabokov as he presented himself both in his writing and in television interviews; using a snob accent as artfully fabricated as the language of Donald Duck, he reveled in such goofiness as, breaking in on himself, "Careful now, here comes a metaphor!" (https://books.google.com/books?id=X-8eAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT45&lpg=PT45&dq=nabokov+%22he+reveled+in+such+goofiness+as%22&source=bl&ots=0eMRtt7drz&sig=cfvEBrjLntO6WXZvdS-fqnR5Qjw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAGoVChMIiKP3-rztxwIVBHE-Ch2uSQ7y#v=onepage&q=nabokov%20%22he%20reveled%20in%20such%20goofiness%20as%22&f=false)Not that VN was always jokey, but I wonder if he would ever have done interviews at all if he hadn't been allowed to distance himself from the proceedings and "play" with the form.
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