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Peter CareyDescribe your latest project.
I'm fearful that the question will tempt me to tell you the story and, in the process, ruin everything I've spent the last two years doing.
After all, what you want from me is for me to keep my reader engaged, alive, curious, sympathetic, unable to guess what will happen next.
So, imagine: it is 1970. There is a seven-year-old boy living on Park Avenue with his grandmother. His name is Che. He can no longer remember what his parents look like. They are famous Harvard radicals, now underground, on the run. The teenager downstairs tells him, don't worry, man, they will come for you. They will break you out of here.
Here's the third paragraph:
Then, when the boy was, by his own count, almost eight, a woman stepped out of the elevator into the apartment on East 62nd Street and he recognized her straight away. No one had told him to expect it.
So finally it seems the prediction has come true. She will break him out of here. Thirty minutes pass. By then, the woman and the boy are on the run.
At the turnstiles she released his hand and pushed him under. She slipped off her pack. He was giddy, giggling. She was laughing too. They had entered another planet, and as they pushed down to the platform the ceiling was slimed with alien rust and the floor was flecked and speckled with black gum so this was the real world that had been crying to him from beneath the grating up on Lex.
What will happen next?
That is what they hardly know, what I can't reveal.
They will be in a Greyhound station in Philadelphia, a motel in Oakland, a plane to Sydney, Australia, a road in tropical Queensland.
The boy had no idea where on earth he stood. He understood the names of hardly anything, himself included.
It goes on. There are more characters, many worlds, a mystery, and then another mystery, and then one more. If everything works as it did in test drives, you will be up all night reading.
In 1964 I began this job which involved crawling inside the skins of imaginary people and making them walk around in a lifelike way, making them talk and laugh and eat and dance until no one believed they were imaginary at all. Been doing it for over forty-two years now. No gold watch in sight.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
If you are a writer, read him and know that this is why we write.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. His voice was deep, loud, and his manner displayed a kind of dogged self-assertion which had nothing aggressive in it. It seemed a necessity, and it was directed apparently as much at himself as at anybody else. He was spotlessly neat, apparelled in immaculate white from shoes to hat, and in the various Eastern ports where he got his living as ship-chandler's water-clerk he was very popular.
How do you relax?
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Describe the best breakfast of your life.
In the fishery canteen at Yaizu I ate enormous quantities of fresh, iridescent tuna and washed it down with beer. When the hurricane arrived the next morning, I was gone.
Why do you write?
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
It was a thrill therefore to get a letter from a conservator in a very respected museum in Boston who told me that he used my book to teach his students.
Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
And Dylan, every day, all my life there is no one else who can, within a single verse, inhabit so many different points of view and arguments and make you want to cry or laugh out loud at the nerve and magic of it all.
I've been sittin' down studyin' the art of love
Is this even remotely like Rembrant's late self-portraits? Oh yes, it is.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five books I continue to buy and give to friends:
These are extraordinary novels. As to why I think so, see "Why do you write?"
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald
Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald
The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz
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Peter Carey is the author of nine novels and has twice received the Booker Prize. His other honors include the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Born in Australia, he now lives in New York City. Visit his website at petercareybooks.com.