Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Morning Reading: Interview with Ron Carlson

Via Tayari Jones' blog, this interview with Ron Carlson about his new novel, The Signal.


NW: I once heard you mention how you can sometimes coax students into writing a better story by taking the story that they start with—which is often about some kind of drunken road trip, if I remember correctly—and have them add another layer of time to it, so that the voice is that of a changed, somewhat older person looking back on these events. It seems like The Signal works in somewhat of the same way—it’s a story about a camping trip, but everything is overlain with the tension and the past between Vonnie and Mack.

RC: In all fiction—and it’s not spoken of in these terms—but there are always two stories. The stories both have to function. The immediate story that’s right in our face needs to capture us. And then coming along under the boat like some ominous force there should be the other story that’s about some feature of the characters’ hearts. Many times that has to do with the past.


NW: I wrote in my review that it seemed like it would take somebody else 400 pages to write this 200 page book. Did all your work with short stories help you to condense?

RC: Thank you. I am a writer who wants his writing to have density. You don’t need a four-pound book. I want the story to have real voltage. A little writing can carry lots of volts. That’s the way I’m working now. It’s the way I worked on short stories, and I’m sure it helped me. In a story you have to get a whole world up, deal with it, and then done.

To read the rest, click here - and then scroll around. It's worth it.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Good read. Thanks for the link.

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