MARCH 26, 2012
Title of the book you’re probably never going to write, but would kind of like to get around to?
Years ago, I was very excited when I came up with what I thought was the perfect title for a novel: The Unconsoled. Only later did I discover that Kazuo Ishiguro had already written a novel by that name. Then I thought, well, if the novel is bad, perhaps I’m in the clear. But when I read it, all hope was lost. Maybe you can’t copyright a title, but you can certainly leave an imprint so indelible it can’t be made to belong to anyone else.
What character or story haunts you?
I think entirely too often of several related figures in Henry James, all from his late work: Lambert Strether in The Ambassadors, Spencer Brydon in ‘The Jolly Corner,’ John Marcher in ‘The Beast in the Jungle.’ These men share a fear that their lives have passed them by without them having ever quite understood them. They each suspect they’ve missed something, and that ‘something’ was the heart of the matter. I’m fascinated with how they do and don’t adjust themselves to that knowledge-it’s more haunting than any ghost story.
Does plot matter?
W.G. Sebald convinced me that it doesn’t. Raymond Chandler convinced me that it does. They’re both right.
Is there a literary community?
I’ve heard of such a thing. I believe it meets the third Tuesday of every month in a basement bingo parlor. BYOB.