Face to Face: Interviews with Contemporary Novelists

Face to Face: Interviews with Contemporary Novelists

Face to Face: Interviews with Contemporary Novelists

Face to Face: Interviews with Contemporary Novelists


Just as writers of fiction offer new and interesting ways of looking at the world, the "literary" interview has evolved into an integral part of the process by providing a bridge not only between the author and the reader but between the fictional work and subsequent critical analysis. In Face to Face Allen Vorda offers the reader and in-depth look into the creative process of nine contemporary novelists. Interviews with such diverse writers as Robert Stone, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Marilynne Robinson cover not only the authors' work but also why they became writers, their writing habits, and opinions about other writers' books. Face To Face will appeal to readers of contemporary fiction as well as to literary critics and scholars.


The literary interview has become a pervasive part of the contemporary literary landscape. I stress contemporary as distinct from modern. A rough guess of the phenomenon's age might be, perhaps, thirty years.

Try to imagine, for example, Ezra Pound interviewing T.S. Eliot on the complex process of revising "The Waste Land"--and then being rebuffed when he tries to elicit from Old Possum the intimate origins of that poem in Eliot's painful first marriage--the confessional shape of a fairly typical literary interview of today. After all, the two great poets were friends and literary confreres, together engaged in the thrilling adventure of literary modernism. Yet, impossible as it is to imagine then, it is not hard to imagine today, so ubiquitous is the interview culture in which we live. That imaginary interview did not, could not have happened, for one simple reason. Because the nature of the private creative process and the line between the autobiographical and the invented has been, for generations now, blurred. Into the no-man's land occupied by that blurring has entered the Literary Interview.

Eliot's famous dictum about the writer's urge to escape from personality must read like ancient Greek to today's writers and readers. In fact, the odyssey of the literary interview in our time has been very much a struggle between issues of personality and questions of craft.

It is to some extent the tension between those two poles . . .

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