For this week: the first half of our convesation with Sam Anderson, critic at large at the New York Times Magazine. We talk about Sam’s time as an undergraduate at Oregon State and LSU, how he became a sort of auto-didact. We talk, as well, about his early admiration for old New Yorker writers like James Thurber and E.B. White. Sam describes life as a PhD student in English at NYU, where he started to pitch articles to magazines almost entirely in secret. Sam describes his habits as a reader and critic, what he sees in Jacques Derrida’s command not to “double the text,” and how criticism itself should be a creative act.