Playboy Interview: Fidel Castro

“Let me state, in all frankness, that I have never harbored personal doubts or a lack of confidence. That may be good or it may be bad. But if you see your actions as objectively correct, then not having doubts is good. I must admit that pride may have influenced my attitudes from time to time. But once I came to a conclusion as to what was right, I had great personal confidence in those ideas.”

Edward Albee: The Art of Theater No. 4

“The final evaluation of a play has nothing to do with immediate audience or critical response. The playwright, along with any writer, composer, painter in this society, has got to have a terribly private view of his own value, of his own work. He's got to listen to his own voice primarily. He's got to watch out for fads, for what might be called the critical aesthetics.”

Playboy Interview: Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Things don’t just flow out of your brain. It’s not like, Hey, I’m brilliant. Show up, paper right here, bam, another banger. No—you sit and you struggle with yourself and you stop cutting your hair. I’m not cutting my hair right now. You stop shaving, like I’m not shaving right now. You remember that you can fail. I’ve failed several times. The fact that everybody else don’t see that don’t give me the right to not see it.”

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More: Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Longform Podcast

Don DeLillo: The Art of Fiction No. 135

We have a rich literature. But sometimes it’s a literature too ready to be neutralized, to be incorporated into the ambient noise. This is why we need the writer in opposition, the novelist who writes against power, who writes against the corporation or the state or the whole apparatus of assimilation. We’re all one beat away from becoming elevator music.

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Plus: Our complete collection of </em>Paris Review interviews</a>.

Real Talk With RuPaul

“I made a pact with myself when I was 15 that if I was going to live this life, I'm only going to do it on my terms, and I'm only going to do it if I'm putting my middle finger up at society the whole time. So any time I've had yearnings to go, "Aw, gee, I wish I could be invited to the Emmys," I say, Ru, Ru, remember the pact you made. You never wanted to be a part of that bullshit. In fact, I'd rather have an enema than have an Emmy.”

Playboy Interview: Frank Sinatra

“I don’t know what other singers feel when they articulate lyrics, but being an 18-karat manic-depressive and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an overacute capacity for sadness as well as elation. I know what the cat who wrote the song is trying to say. I’ve been there—and back. I guess the audience feels it along with me. They can’t help it. Sentimentality, after all, is an emotion common to all humanity.”

Don't Cry for Tracy Morgan

“I faced death and all that shit. It’s my responsibility to come back and come back strong. It’s going to take more than a Walmart truck to take that gift away. I can’t wait to make you all laugh. Especially you, Mike. And I already did that today. So all is good.”

Mary Karr: The Art of Memoir No. 1

“People who didn’t live pre-Internet can’t grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. The only bookstores sold Bibles the size of coffee tables and dashboard Virgin Marys that glowed in the dark. I stopped in the middle of the SAT to memorize a poem, because I thought, This is a great work of art and I’ll never see it again.”

Terrence Howard's Dangerous Mind

“He’d gotten hold of this notion that one times one doesn’t equal one, but two. He began writing down his logic, in a language of his own devising that he calls Terryology. He wrote forward and backward, with both his right and left hands, sometimes using symbols he made up that look foreign, if not alien, to keep his ideas secret until they could be patented.”