I’m not a big fan of Deborah Solomon’s interviews in the New York Times Magazine. I’m annoyed by her coy, facetious tone, which causes her subjects to be either a) correspondingly facetious, or b) cryptic and non-responsive. As her interview with Ted Kooser demonstrates, she takes her questions from three pots:
1. “Average guy” questions (How much do you make as poet laureate? Do poet laureates hang around together?)
2. Questions that elicit the subject’s reaction to some bit of conventional wisdom about the world (Is an unhappy childhood a prerequisite for a career in poetry? Are Midwesterners measured people?), and
3. Questions that elicit the subject’s reaction to some bit of conventional wisdom about the subject (Don’t you think you should be better acquainted with European poetry? Aren’t your poems a bit sentimental?).
Then she throws in a few supposed personal opinions that, like her questions, are also facetious (Ax murderers and divas are both self-centered types who seem unaware of the needs of other people). In no case, it seems to me, does Deborah Solomon ask her subjects a question from Deborah Solomon.
As you can tell from my own poor offerings, I have nothing against irony; these interviews just don’t do it for me. It’s probably a matter of taste; other people probably find them refreshingly unconventional and funny. But love her or hate her, the one thing you can’t do is read her “straight,” which is what Crabwalk does. Crab, you’re letting down the team.