Tuesday, September 23, 2008

waiting for home

Home, by Marilynne Robinson. Excerpts from an interview with The Paris Review:

On character: In the development of every character there’s a kind of emotional entanglement that occurs. The characters that interest me are the ones that seem to pose questions in my own thinking. The minute that you start thinking about someone in the whole circumstance of his life to the extent that you can, he becomes mysterious, immediately.

On teaching
: I try to make writers actually see what they have written, where the strength is. Usually in fiction there’s something that leaps out—an image or a moment that is strong enough to center the story. If they can see it, they can exploit it, enhance it, and build a fiction that is subtle and new. I don’t try to teach technique, because frankly most technical problems go away when a writer realizes where the life of a story lies. I don’t see any reason in fine-tuning something that’s essentially not going anywhere anyway. What they have to do first is interact in a serious way with what they’re putting on a page. When people are fully engaged with what they’re writing, a striking change occurs, a discipline of language and imagination.

On writing essays: To change my own mind. I try to create a new vocabulary or terrain for myself, so that I open out—I always think of the Dutch claiming land from the sea—or open up something that would have been closed to me before. That’s the point and the pleasure of it. I continuously scrutinize my own thinking. I write something and think, How do I know that that’s true? If I wrote what I thought I knew from the outset, then I wouldn’t be learning anything new.


Jenny McKeel said...

Yeah I'm looking forward to reading this.

Jane said...

Late to this post, but I'm wondering, has anyone read this book? Housekeeping is one of my all time favorite novels. But I had to force myself to finish Gilead, to stay awake, to care about anything but the language. Language isn't enough for me. I need a story, characters I care about. In some ways I finished it out of respect for Robinson and because I'd been waiting so long for another novel by her (and because one of my best friends--son of a Lutheran preacher--man loved it). I know Obama liked it; I know it won awards. But I honestly can't even recommend it. So anyway, just wondering . . .