Posts Tagged ‘novelist’
May 18, 2011 | by Tom Nissley
I am, in theory, living the dream: I made a lot of money on a game show and quit my job to write. In December1, I won eight times on Jeopardy! and suddenly found myself the third-leading money winner in the history of the show (aside from tournaments and John Henry–style man-versus-machine battles). I left my job (as an editor on the Amazon.com Books store) in March, and ever since I’ve been trying to sort out how to get all the things done for which there still aren’t enough hours in the day: reading, working on a novel every day instead of once a week, blogging, umpiring Little League, writing another book that the world might want more than a weird novel about silent movies, saying hi to my wife more than I used to, and, crucially, preparing for the next Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, which hasn’t been announced yet and which I haven’t yet been invited to, though it seems like a safe bet. For better or worse (better!), being a game-show contestant is now one of my jobs.
- Well, actually in September, but I had to keep quiet about it for three months until it aired.
August 19, 2010 | by Patrick Loughran
Vendela Vida’s new novel, The Lovers, follows a middle-aged Vermont woman, recently widowed, as she vacations in the unfamiliar territory of Turkey in an attempt to re-examine her life. Among these new surroundings, her initial numbness about her bereavement gives way to doubt over whether her marriage was even happy, and she has to face up to a pain she never anticipated. Vendela Vida recently answered my questions over lunch during her book tour’s stop-over in New York City.
What drew you to set this novel in Turkey?
It was completely an accident. I went there for a month in June of 2005 when I was trying to finish my second novel, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, and wanted to be far away from the Arctic Circle in winter—the setting of that novel—and free from the day-to-day distractions of my life in San Francisco. I found a rental house by typing “Turkey,” “rental,” “cheap,” and “beach” into a search engine. I had no intention of setting a novel there, but a year later, this house and this town I stayed in kept appearing in my mind. I couldn’t get rid of the idea of writing about Turkey, so I did.
Did the house you stayed in have any of the unusual contents of the vacation house in the book?
Yes. I usually don’t like to take details from life, but, in this case, I couldn’t resist. The owners left out things that people typically wouldn’t leave out—sex swings, pornographic photos of the wife, books on sexual positions. My husband and I would leave the house to swim, or eat, or explore, and when we returned we would want to be in a neutral, uncomplicated place to relax and absorb everything new we’d seen and experienced beyond the walls of the house, but we were continually affronted by some new and intimate discovery about the owners’ lives. I wanted to put Yvonne, the protagonist of The Lovers, in a discomfiting situation like that.
Lionel Shriver has said she writes partly as catharsis-in-advance. So she wrote about death to experience bereavement. Was this a motive for you in exploring the character of Yvonne?
I write a lot from a place of fear. My friend, the writer Amanda Davis, who was killed in a plane crash in 2003, said that every day you should write about something that scares you. I was finishing this book just after the birth of my second child and the notion that this newborn could one day be estranged and the source of pain for me was also something I feared—and so I made Yvonne’s relationship with her daughter an especially fraught and challenging one. Even the vague idea of my husband dying is something that devastates me. So I was tapping into that fear when creating Yvonne, who’s fifty-three and a widow, and trying to imagine what it would be like to lose someone after spending half your life with them.Read More »
June 14, 2010 | by Caitlin Roper
Our correspondence ranged from marriage to Mike Tyson’s pigeons, but there was one steady thread—my repeated nagging for a short story or piece of fiction to read and consider for the magazine. I learned from Katherine that I was not her only fan amongParis Review editors. “Shortly before George Plimpton died, he phoned me out of the blue—he was a legendary figure for my generation so this blew my pulse rate to ecstatic shreds—asking to include one of my pieces in a volume of boxing stories he was planning to edit. It would have been a great honor.” A new Katherine Dunn story in The Paris Review, the issue’s printed, and my pulse has not yet returned to normal.
Since Geek Love was published in 1989, you've published many articles, essays, even poetry, but not much fiction. Does fiction take longer to simmer?
Yes, I’ve only published a few short stories in anthologies. Some projects do take longer to gel. But nonfiction is done on a deadline so somebody snatches it away and prints it.
Twenty years is a long time for something to gel, what has happened?
I don’t want to be glib here, but twenty years worth of life and work happened. Some might say I’m right on schedule by my lights. It took seventeen years to get from my second novel, Truck, to my third, Geek Love. And Cut Man is still in progress but it’s a longer book. Fortunately there’s no shortage of wonderful novelists to keep us all engaged. And, lucky for me, the Magi at Alfred A. Knopf are possessed of patience.Read More »
June 10, 2010 | by Maud Newton
This is the second installment of Maud Newton's culture diary. Click here to read part 1.
8:07 A.M. I don't work on Wednesdays, but I'm up early anyway, mildly hungover and with tea in hand, to write. The dinner scene looks clunkier now; commence line-edits.
9:30 A.M. Online grazing: Garrison Keillor publishes an infuriating death-of-publishing op-ed. Kingsley Amis argues that Keats isn't a great poet. Graydon Carter says that Kingsley Amis was “an accomplished womanizer, drinker, and conversationalist” who was “funny and raffishly rude, and had the thinnest, whitest skin I've ever seen on a man—like a condom filled with skim milk.” The NYPL and the Brooklyn and Queens library systems are beginning major layoffs; protest by joining the postcard campaign.
10:30 A.M. More writing, further consultation1 of Memento Mori.
12:30 P.M. For lunch: bagel with tomato, onion, lox, and cream cheese. I've set aside a little time here because I'm excited to take a look at the galley for my friend Amitava Kumar's A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb2, about the U.S. terrorism-detection machine/industry.
2:00 P.M. Back to work on my novel draft.
8:12 P.M. After six hours' work, I'm feeling more optimistic about the way all the hullabaloo with the dogs leads into the dinner scene.
8:45 P.M. Sushi and drinks with Max. Lately when I drink gin, I've been doing it Kingsley Amis' preferred way, with a little ice, lemon, and water. It's growing on me. I don't know why3 I'm drinking the things he and Muriel Spark did.
11:00 P.M. Time for another episode4 of Damages (second of Season Two).
1:23 A.M. Amis on owing to/due to: Never say5 “Due to lack of interest, the carol service has been cancelled"—only “Owing to...”
- After reading Brad Gooch's biography of Flannery O'Connor last year, I internalized her (and Elizabeth Hardwick's) prohibition against allowing the same word to appear twice on a page, and my prose strains in places as a result. I wonder: did O'Connor read Muriel Spark? If so, confronted with such hilarious and inarguably brillliant repetitions—see, e.g., the sticks—how could she have continued to adhere to her rule? Also, how did Spark reuse words so imaginatively? She built humor through the sameness but somehow made the descriptions fresh every time. I wish she could revise this scene I'm getting ready to work on now, the one with the dogs in the car.
- I'm especially fascinated by the section about the Bangladeshi-born, New York City-raised Muslim artist who was detained in June 2002 after returning from a residency program in Senegal, on suspicion that he'd fled the country on September 12, 2001, and left a bomb behind in a locker. After being detained for questioning and then subjected to a six-month investigation that included nine polygraph tests administered in one day, the suspect launched The Orwell Project, which includes photos of and details about all the meals he eats, the urinals he uses, and the products he buys. "His aim,” Kumar writes, “is to overwhelm those who have him under surveillance... With the information they need.”
- I have no (conscious) belief that doing this will have any talismanic effect.
- Maybe I'll be happy about all the plot points later, but right now the story is starting to feel cluttered—not to mention seeded with coincidences. Obviously Patty had some sort of relationship with the scientist whose wife was just murdered, and I have the feeling we're supposed to wonder if he is the father of her son. Did he really have to be carrying on an affair with General Counsel for the Evil Energy Company, too? And then there's all the drama with Rose and the “fellow support group member” who obviously has something to do with Frobisher and who's going to get her into bed. The FBI plot is fine, but it's getting buried amid all this other stuff.
- I would like to think I would avoid using either in this formulation, but a quick run through old entries using Google might prove otherwise. Rather than worrying about this, I prefer to focus on the ancillary question of the double “l"; when did we stop writing “cancelled” or “travelled"? When did the single “l” become the default?