|Garth Risk Hallberg|
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Notable works||City on Fire (2015)|
I have this weird tropism for islands. Take me to an island as far from New York as I can possibly go.
The ego being shattered is not what frightens me – that can be useful for writing – but the ego being inflated is sort of like it dying of gout.
I had a major bug for cities and for paintings and literature and all the things I thought went on in cities.
I started coming up to New York at age 17. There was a girl I met over the summer somewhere; I was chasing her. I would drive up to D.C., where I had made some friends, which was about four hours away, and we would take the bus up to New York.
I remember reading 'The Hobbit' on a car trip from Ohio to Mississippi and getting out at a rest-stop in Mississippi and feeling jet-lagged at my return from Middle-earth.
One of the ways I stuck out was I was a very passionate reader. There was probably a cyclical nature to that; the more I felt like an outcast, the more I sought refuge in books, and the more I sought refuge in books, the more it made me not speak the same language as my peers.
I think there is a real thing going on where writers are feeling more liberated to write with a big canvas because of a demonstrable, continued appetite for long-form storytelling.
Writers since at least the heyday of Gore Vidal have bemoaned their audience's defection to other forms of entertainment.
For some reason, I spent my early thirties reading as much postwar Hungarian fiction as I could get my hands on.
I fell in love with New York at some indeterminate point in my early years.
I respect Billy Joel, but I'm not a guy who's gonna sit down and listen to the entire 'Essential Billy Joel.'
If I could do what Hilary Mantel does, I would probably do that. She is more intelligent and a better researcher and knows more what she's about than I do.
Narnia, Middle-earth and New York were my three fantasy universes when I was a kid.
I think several generations of my family had novels in the drawer. You know the montage in 'The Royal Tenenbaums' where each character has produced some sort of minor work? It was like having a magician in the household.
I'm not confident in my own ability to resist the titanic force of my own ego.
I find it heartening that readers are still excited about diving into a world.
I came to feel that, in addition to Imre Kertesz, Hungary has produced at least three contemporary novelists who deserve the Nobel: Peter Nadas, Peter Esterhazy and Laszlo Krasznahorkai.
Reading isn't about managing expectations. In certain ways, writing is. You're trying to send signals early in a book about what might be coming later, but I think worrying about the kind of chatter around a book is something I try and stay as far away from when I'm reading.
Sure, 'Les Miserables' can be melodramatic. And seeing the musical instead of reading the novel will save you some time and spare you the long part where Hugo goes on and on about the Parisian sewer system. But I would hate for the novel to lose that.
When I get online, there's this cycle of anxiety and narcissism that takes over, which is the part of me that I like the least.
In graduate school, I was a student of E.L. Doctorow, and he had us read 'Moby-Dick' in a week.
Reading was not just an escape or a Band-Aid; it was a deep form of feeling seen and recognized, and being able to see and recognize other kindred spirits. My dad was a writer, too, which also likely had something to do with that.
A fragmented film such as 'Babel' gives the impression of 'edginess' but, in its form, tells us nothing we didn't already know.
I always thought I was going to be a great poet, and go and live in New York, where the great poets lived – you know, where Whitman had walked the streets.
I had one week in the fall of 1996 where I was like, 'I'm America's greatest living teenage poet.'
The writing that feels the best to me, I experience sometimes, is a kind of weirdly deep listening – like, it feels like if you just listen hard enough, the next sentence will tell you what it needs to be.
We who curate our Twitter feeds and Facebook walls understand that at least part of what we're doing publicly, 'like'-ing what we like, is trying to separate ourselves from the herd.
You don't have to subject yourself to the sweep and rigor of Bourdieu's book 'Distinction' to feel how thoroughly a lower-calorie version of its ideas has been absorbed into the cultural bloodstream.
I'd been coming to New York for weekends since I was 17, and after 9/11, I started making these trips more frequently, just to make contact with the city.
When something is at risk or in danger or about to be lost, those are the moments you start to realize how much it means to you.
I was working my first adult job, a quasi journalistic job, writing content for a website. In the offices, we had banks of TVs, papers, a constant media stream, which was unusual for 2001.
Any character that can't be kept straight, to me, isn't a character who should be in the book – you know, anyone not vivid enough to have a claim on my attention.
I happen to be the kind of reader who, if I like something, I don't want it to end.
In college, I was a huge fan of 'Les Miserables.' I seem to remember that people who were into French literature preferred Hugo's poetry.
I grew up in a university town in eastern North Carolina – what's called Tobacco Road. It was very rural.
I'm trying to focus on my job as I see it, which is to write the next thing and to remain, to the degree that I ever was, a noticer.
It may be that Tolstoy and Virginia Woolf were sitting around fretting about their Amazon reviews or their pre-pub whatever, but I kind of doubt it. I don't think that's how the work probably got made.
The central question driving literary aesthetics in the age of the iPad is no longer 'How should novels be?' but 'Why write novels at all?'
Definitely, something is happening out there in Internet world at any given moment, but the likelihood that it's something that can't wait until that evening for you to find out about it is very small.