If a writer should follow Ernest Hemingway’s well-known dictum to write what he knows, then first-time novelist Jess Row just might be in the wrong business.
Tom Robbins had no intention of writing a memoir. “I was conned into it by the women in my life,” he says with a laugh during a call to his home in the small town of La Conner, Washington.
“They had been pestering me to write down the stories that I’d been telling them—bidden and unbidden—over the years. I wrote 20 pages and showed it to them, thinking that would shut them up. But it had the opposite effect.”
Barbara Ehrenreich and her younger sister are very close. But her sister really, really does not like the title of Ehrenreich’s new memoir, Living with a Wild God.
“She thinks I’m being too soft on theism in this book. She’s like, how can you write a book with God in the title! It was hardcore, the atheism we came from,” Ehrenreich says with a bemused laugh during a call to her home in Alexandria, Virginia, where she moved some years ago to be near her daughter and grandchildren.
"I wanted to write about Wisconsin,” Nickolas Butler says of the genesis of his soulful first novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, which gave voice to his homesickness.
“My first semester at the [Iowa] Writers Workshop, I was down there alone. I was sleeping in this terrible apartment,” Butler says.
The surprising source of Bich Minh Nguyen’s enthralling second novel, Pioneer Girl, was her discovery that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter Rose had traveled to Vietnam as a journalist in 1965.
Nguyen (pronounced New-win), whose family fled Vietnam in 1975 when she was 8 months old and settled eventually in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says she “had read the Little House on the Prairie books when I was a kid, and I loved them. And I would reread them as an adult as comfort literature."
After writing three critically acclaimed novels, Gary Steyngart turned to memoir. Little Failure, published this month, is an unsparing, often funny, account of Steyngart’s anxiety-ridden life from his early childhood in Russia, through his family’s immigration to Queens, New York, and ending with the publication of his first novel. Our reading of the memoir raised some additional questions, which Shteyngart answered via email.
Acclaimed author E.L. Doctorow suggests a variety of ways to think about the form and movement of his short, swift, emotionally absorbing, intellectually troubling and often disconcertingly funny 12th novel, Andrew’s Brain. “Think of it as an Installation,” he writes in answer to an emailed question. “This book has a...
Tom Ambrose considers himself “a newcomer to cycling.” True, as a youngster in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s, he owned and rode a number of bicycles. And now, as a grandfather, he pedals around the countryside near his home in rural Suffolk on a Dawes, which he calls “a sporting amateur’s bike.” But until recently,...
Jennifer duBois is concerned that some readers of her stunning new novel, Cartwheel, might think the book is somehow factual since the themes of the novel were “loosely inspired” by the Amanda Knox story.“I’ve noticed that people are sometimes very suspicious of the notion of fiction,” duBois says during a call that...
After the soaring critical and commercial success of her first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, it took Marisha Pessl quite a while to settle into the creation of her moody, boldly ambitious new novel Night Film.No, it wasn’t anxiety about the so-called sophomore jinx, Pessl says during a call to her writing studio. On the phone,...