Do you succumb to nostalgia?
Well, I succumb to rehashing.
Do you write long and cut, or short and backfill?
Long, long, long. I accumulate multiple drafts. Then I have to cut, yeah, it's excruciating.
How do you feel about your Wikipedia entry?
Who put that there, anyway?
Lunch with any three people who ever lived; who do you invite?
Do they have to be able to get along? Chekhov. Virginia Woolf. Rosalind Russell and Mark Bittman. Also Diana Athill. That's five. Pierre Bonnard. James Beard. Zora Neale Hurston. Cezanne, Rilke, Rosalind Russell, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Nina Simone. Jenny Diski. George Bernard Shaw. Natalia Ginzburg, Marcella Hazan. Alberta Hunter, Alberto Giacometti. And my Grampa.
Best piece of advice you ever received?
Well, the most comforting anyway: Whatever you're worried about, in two weeks it will be something else.
Have you ever been defeated by a genre?
Every day. But I tell myself whatever I'm worried about, in two weeks it will be something else.
Which classic author would you like to see kicked out of the pantheon?
I'd like a few added, actually.
Are you okay with blood?
Blood, yes. Especially television blood, which is gooey, like finger paint. But what's under the blood? Not ok with that, no. Blech.
Who is your imagined audience?
All four of them?
Does it at all coincide with the real one?
Three of them do...
What's your problem?
Whatever it is, in two weeks it will be something else. Shit, I'm sorry, not funny. Not even true. Finishing, that's my problem.
What are you so afraid of?
Finishing? Not finishing.
Sexy and dangerous, or brilliant and kind?
My readers, you mean... Yes, they are.
What character or story haunts you?
Cletus's dog in So Long, See You Tomorrow.
And Sally Seton in Mrs. Dalloway, who "felt more deeply, more passionately, every year." And most recently Ora, from Grossman's To the End of the Land.
Does plot matter?
Does age matter?
Do you prefer to write standing, or must you lie prone in a field of dandelions with a steno pad and a good pen? Or what?
I write in my daughter's room. On her bed. Don't tell her.
Is there a literary community?