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Original Essays | November 21, 2013 0 comments
When my second novel, The Stud Book, was published, people asked, "Will they send you on a tour?" The phrasing of the question made a tour sound so... Continue »
Richard FlanaganDescribe your latest book.
The Unknown Terrorist is a fable about our times in which a young innocent woman is set up as a terrorist. Denied the possibility of love she finally feels driven to commit an act of terrible evil. In writing it, I tried to forget everything I thought and felt, and simply let my words be a mirror to this strange era.
I once rode shotgun on an offal truck for the local abattoir with a man called Stan. Stan told me nothing. Stan drove us around butcheries in the gray light of coming day, fag spilling ash, saying nothing. We started work at 5 and were invariably half cut by 6 as butchers, I discovered, were invariably semi-alcoholic. Still, Stan refused to talk. But he did drink. By 7 the tray would be full for the first time and we had to sort through the steaming pig skulls, the rancid fat, the green entrails, the rotting kangaroo carcasses for the so-called 'good' fat, kidney fat, which was heaved to one corner of the truck and then taken to a European smallgoods factory where we had a large cooked European breakfast with the workers salamis, brawn, bacon, eggs a feat of the slaughtered. Still Stan said nothing, merely took the fag out, belched some stale beer, and hoed in. Hieronymus Bosch meets Marcel Marceau.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Three years ago I was on a book tour of Spain. Everywhere I went, everyone I met, every writer, every poet, every bookseller I asked the question: Who is the Hispanic writer I should read now? After all, it had been the Hispanic writers of the last fifty years Marquez, Borges, Cortazar, Neruda, Paz who had as comprehensively reinvented and reinvigorated literature as the Russians in the nineteenth century. To my question there was but one answer, repeated over and over: Bolaño, Bolaño, Bolaño.
Roberto Bolaño had died the year before I visited at the relatively early age of fifty. His close friend and fellow novelist, Rodrigo Fresán, told me how Bolaño wrote like a man possessed, as if knowing he was going to die, compressing a lifetime's work into those last few years of his life. He was much loved and venerated.
By turns bawdy, beautiful, brilliant and often very funny, Bolaño writes like a fallen angel. Bolaño described The Savage Detectives as "a love letter to my generation." In its freewheeling description of the lives of travellers of every nationality intersecting for odd, intense moments in places as diverese as Tel Aviv, Liberia, and Spanish camping gounds, it is as much a novel of its generation as Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby or Kerouac's On the Road.
Writers are better liars than other people: true or false?
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Gogol's dying words.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
What makes your favorite pair of shoes better than the rest?
What is your idea of absolute happiness?
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Why do you write?
Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin?
Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
In the For-All-Eternity category, what will be your final thought?
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
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