Writers Speaking, the Speech Printed as Writing

(Originally posted on Blogger site.)

The other day, J passed on an article to me, something that I might enjoy reading — an interview with Russell Banks in Harper’s Magazine. I always enjoy reading interviews, autobiographies, and other first-person accounts/thoughts from creative types. Though they run the risk of being highly subjective — if not overtly delusional — I find them fascinating in a way that no piece of biographical writing ever manages.

This got me thinking about different writers that I admire and the possibility of finding interviews with them. I plunged headfirst into the dank, mineral-encrusted tubes of the internet and have emerged with this handful of gems for you! I feel each one expresses at least one thought that I find relevant to my own writing.

Eric Basso interviewed by Weird Fiction Review
Brian Evenson interview by Weird Fiction Review
Brian Evenson interviewed by Tin House magazine
Carole Maso interviewed by Bomblog
Mark Z. Danielewski interviewed by The Millions  *
Michael Cisco interviewed by Postscripts to Darkness
Thomas Ligotti interviewed by Weird Fiction Review
Anne Carson interviewed by the Paris Review
Harlan Ellison interview by the AV Club

If you haven’t yet read anything by any of these writers, I suggest you freeze immediately as if dipped in a tranquil pool of liquid nitrogen, and then get your brittle, flash-frozen hands on some of their work.

To top-off all of this, like some shining, majestic cherry atop a rainbow-jimmie-riddled mountain of ice cream, I give you a nice quote from Carole Maso: “Risk keeps a writing project and also the writer vulnerable, open, off-guard, constantly changing, new, intoxicated, deeply immersed, in the midst of great adventure and also a great mystery. Writing then becomes a window into things otherwise off-limits: ultimate freedom and ultimate possibility. Who could resist this?”


* An amusing anecdote to accompany this one:
I’m sitting here, at work, at the reference desk, reading this interview with MZD. Nearby, there are a few students seated at computers, drifting around on the internet because it’s the week after finals and there is no real classwork left for them to worry after. In the interview, I have just reached a paragraph in which he (and the interviewer) are relating a very poignant moment, one related to the future of a particular writing project — oh, just read the damn interview and you’ll know the details that I’m referring to. The Redwood story. Anyway, there is unfolding there a story of synchronicity, some perceived cosmic connection, a message from the universe in which it nods and winks at him and unzips its backpack to show him that it’s carrying a copy of House of Leaves. And I pause, thinking about this coincidence, relishing the details of the story, when I hear one of the students at the computer nearby saying to another:
“Want to see something? This is my friend’s mom’s ash tree.”
I immediately freeze, looking up, eyes darting around, wondering why this is all happening in such close proximity and relation to me. The disorientation is mounting quickly, and, as I look at the back of the head of the student who was just speaking, she leans to the side to look at her friend’s screen and I’m able to view her own monitor unobstructed.
On it is a large photograph from some online photo-sharing site (Instagram, something similar perhaps). It is a close-up of a large, deep-sided ash tray, filled with stubbed-out cigarettes. I had misheard her; she had said “This is my friend’s mom’s ash tray.”
As I sat there, staring out at the image across from me, I realized that the ash tray, impossibly filled with many, many half-smoked cigarettes, seemed to resemble the great, rounded upper-surface of a tree in winter, the leaves shed and only the bent, bare arms reaching out. I was, in some way, looking down at the top of a tree of ash. It made me smile and I took a moment to enjoy the beauty of this photo, translated inside my head and rendered as a natural landscape that expanded my appreciation of the interview and Danielewski’s work.

There you have it, folks. Meaning from nothing.


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