The Questionnaire: Peter Plagens




The Questionnaire interviews Peter Plagens

The Questionnaire: Peter Plagens

March 30th, 2012 reset - +

Do you succumb to nostalgia? 

Nostalgia, someone said, is a form of depression.

 

Do you write long and cut, or short and backfill?

Long and cut. The whole point of computers is that you can blurt everything, and then start reneging.

 

Best piece of advice you ever received?

Stephen Donadio, professor emeritus of English at Middlebury College and editor of The New England Review, told me the best advice from an editor he'd ever received was, "Put everything about one thing in one place." I'll buy that.

 

Who is your imagined audience? Does it at all coincide with the real one?

After I finish a piece, I often stand up, flash V-for-victory signs with both hands, and say loudly, "Those are my people out there."

 

What's your problem?

I'm too old to be a painter and a writer at the same time.

 

What are you so afraid of?

Death.

 

How long can you go without putting paw to keyboard?

About 72 hours. I keep a journal.

 

Who reads you first?

My wife, the painter Laurie Fendrich.  

 

What character or story haunts you?

Lately, Paul Bowles's The Sheltering Sky.

 

Does plot matter?

I read a lot of mystery novels, and the biggest problem with most of them is plot: either too baroquely improbable, or a psycho who does bad things just 'cause he does bad things. Hakan Nesser's Borkmann's Point is the exception I think about most.

 

Does age matter?

Mine, yes; authors I read, no. 

 

Is there a literary community?

I don't have one. I'd like to, but there's so little time and I'm a bit of a misanthrope.

 

What's the question or questions we should have asked, had we known? What is the answer?

I'll refrain from quoting Gertrude Stein.

 

 

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