Brought to you from the folks at Electric Literature.
I was just thinking of Kurt Vonnegut over the weekend. I might’ve even had a dream about him, where it was declared by me or someone else that he was the greatest American writer. And now, lo and behold, there’s an interview in The Rumpus with Nanette, his daughter, and we’re coming up on what would’ve been his 90th birthday. This is really a lovely piece and everyone should read it. As an aside, she briefly mentions her time in Northampton with him, and I was working in the hotel there one day when someone said he’d been in to eat at its café. That always made me feel a personal connection with the man, even though I hadn’t actually seen him.
This was my favorite part of the interview that will stick with me for some time:
Joe Meno: …When I look at the last twelve years, it seems like the trend in publishing is to write these big, 700-page books, where there’s this certain tone that feels a little bit sarcastic, or there’s this bombardment of information about economics or World War II. As I was writing the book, I thought, Well, that’s real interesting, and it’s an interesting use of the novel. But you could also use the novel to do this really small thing. This thing that would never be a film, or never be a TV series, because it’s only about these two people.
There’s a bunch of novels that follow that, they just haven’t been produced here in the last fifteen years or so. Books like Goodbye, Columbus, or a number of French novels from the 50s that have this really beautiful, bare, focused quality.