James Lipton

Mr. Lipton turns to Andre Gide and Mike Nichols for some inspiriation.

on Sep 28, 2009

This is my seventeenth blog. Hard to believe. And even harder to believe is the heartwarming array of responses from you.

As I write this, it’s a Sunday evening, and I’m alone in my study. It’s utterly silent – which is my favorite “sound,” as those of you know who have heard my responses to the Pivot Questionnaire. You’re somewhere out there, your names and thoughts unknown to me until you elect to make them known by responding to whatever will pop up on this screen in the next few minutes.

At this moment, I have no clearer notion of what it will be than you do. You’re busy with your own lives, blissfully unaware that somewhere in Manhattan, I’m reaching out to you. And I’m facing a nearly blank screen with a nearly blank mind, which for a writer is a pleasanter state than you may think – because anything is possible.

In his novel “The Counterfeiters,” André Gide, created a character named Uncle Edouard, a writer who kept a diary. In short order we discover that Edouard is in fact Gide, performing a remarkable triple task: creating the novel, playing a character in it, and, through the diary, describing the process of doing both, thus giving us, in addition to a masterful work of art, one of the greatest essays ever written on the literary craft.