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The Hired Gunby Matthew Branton
Author Q & A
Why do you write?
Because I read, and I know what a novel can do to a person.
What writers do you owe a debt to?
The establishment British novelists — Rushdie, Amis, Winterson, Barnes, McEwan, Kureishi — who have been showing us how not to do it for the better part of three decades. Writers currently publishing whom I enjoy include a fly young Brazilian novelist named Patricia Melo, the endlessly versatile T.C. Boyle, the delightful short-story writer George Saunders, the blistering Chuck Palahniuk, and the unfailing genius, Don Delillo. Novelists whom I especially admire — Dickens, Hardy, Orwell, Delillo — seem to have a way of passing the baton on about them, if you know what I mean. The twenty-five-hundred year-old line Hoc dixit Xenon, quid tu? [this is what Xenon said. How about you?] is sometimes quoted as being the beginning of modern philosophy; I think it?s a nice way to describe how the very best writers hand work on to each other.
What do you aim to do in your writing?
My mission is to improve conditions amongst readers of contemporary fiction.
Is film important to your work?
Structure is important to my work, and the R&D work on narrative structure has been carried out almost exclusively in Hollywood. Structure has long been regarded as a thing of beauty by cineastes, but is usually ignored by novelists and critics in favour of style; style over substance, in my opinion.
Why do you live in Hawaii?
Because the Pacific way is a beautiful way. It is almost impossible to live a garbage life in rural Hawaii, and it is almost impossible to live a good life in Britain (too dirty, too crowded, too expolitative, too violent). But on the north shore of Oahu we don?t wear shoes, even when we skate; we surf, we fish, we paddle, we dive; we grow bananas, papayas, mangoes and avocadoes; we hang with the geckos (there is no point trying to chase them out of your house, and besides they eat the roaches). The water is 74 degrees every day (in Britain I surf in a heavy wetsuit, boots, and a hood), the moon is bright enough to read on the beach at three a.m., and the sun is hot enough to have my tats out permanently, in addition to turning my skin brown and my butthair blond. What more could a white boy want?
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